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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2010 August;62(4):363-70

language: English

Suicidal behavior in adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder

Ganz D., Sher L.

Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA


Recently, the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adolescence is higher than the prevalence of PTSD in adult populations. PTSD and suicidality are often found in populations of adolescents presenting with other emotional disorders (particularly mood disorders), traumatic grief, childhood abuse, and/or a family or peer history of suicide. The reasons and developments of the association between PTSD and suicidality in adolescence, however, remain unclear. Core psychobiological changes contributing to PTSD affect emotion, arousal, perception of the self and the world, irritability, impulsivity, anger, aggression and depression. There is evidence that the aforementioned factors, as well as alcohol and other drug use may act to moderate the influence of stressful life events and lead to eventual suicidality. Both PTSD and suicidality in adolescents have also been hypothesized to be a result of exposure to violence and negative coping styles. There are many treatment challenges for these populations, yet the most promising preventions and treatments include suicide risk screenings, suicide education, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, addressing associated coping mechanisms and prescribing anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. However, when prescribing medications, physicians do need to be careful to consider the weaknesses and strengths of each of the pharmacological options as they apply to adolescents presenting with PTSD and suicidality.

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