Our foster care system is in dire straits. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in the United States alone, over 400,000 children are currently in care and over 100,000 of those children are waiting for permanent adoptive homes. While the numbers are staggering, so are the long term and lasting psychiatric and mental health concerns that often follow these children through the system. One of the most common consequences of early trauma and a journey through the foster care system is often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.
Typically we think of PTSD as associated with veterans or those who have lived through war, but we often forget the complex, interpersonal trauma that is often experienced by children within the foster care system. Trauma such as separation and loss, as well as various forms of abuse or witnessing violence, can lead to PTSD. Unfortunately, children who have survived trauma often are left without the appropriate coping mechanism to battle their inner distress. As such, these hurting children often display behaviors that are linked to diagnosis of ADHD, conduct disorder and oppositional defiance disorder as opposed to PTSD or even anxiety.
As a . . .