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Little Known on How to Best Help Kids After Trauma
Date:2/11/2013

dies found that talk therapy seemed helpful for either preventing or treating traumatic stress. No study found that antidepressants or other medications worked.

In most cases where the findings were promising, the study looked at a school program that included some form of cognitive behavioral therapy. Forman-Hoffman said that type of intervention would typically be rolled out when there is a trauma that affects the community.

The obvious example right now would be the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting two months ago in Newtown, Conn. That tragedy has thrown a spotlight on how to best help children through a trauma, Forman-Hoffman said.

"Unfortunately, as far as what's supported by the evidence, we can't make any recommendations," she said.

Another expert agreed that evidence is lacking.

"We just don't know much," agreed Dr. Denise Dowd, who specializes in emergency care at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.

But that doesn't mean there's nothing to be done, said Dowd, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

"We do have some evidence on what's effective," she noted. "And we do have to intervene when a child is having a hard time."

Dowd added that even in the absence of evidence on formal therapies, parents themselves can make a big difference.

Kids who have a supportive parent or other adult in their lives are typically "resilient," Dowd said. "Parents should recognize the power of their own nurturing. You don't need published research evidence to know that's important."

Of course, some children do develop lingering problems after a trauma. It's not clear how often that happens, study author Forman-Hoffman said, and a lot depends on the individual child.

Kids with a history of anxiety or depression, for example, seem to be at increased risk of post-traumatic stress. The same is true of children with chronic stress in their lives -- like living in poverty or suffering maltr
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