Friday, November 24, 2006

Foster Care & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to an April 6, 2005 study of foster care alumni, former foster youth suffer post-traumatic stress disorder at twice the rate of United States war veterans.

The definition of PTSD is "a condition in which victims of overwhelming and uncontrollable experiences are subsequently psychologically affected by feelings of intense fear, loss of safety, loss of control, helplessness and extreme vulnerability. "

After suffering a traumatic event, survivors believe (either on a concious/unconcious level) that if they are vigilant enough, they will be able to recognize the warning signs and avoid future traumas.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Michigan and Casey Family Programs reviewed case files of 659 adults in Washington and Oregon, ages 20 to 33, who had lived in foster care between 1988 and 1998. They interviewed 479 of them.

It was the first significant study of how former foster children fare over a long period of time. Results demonstrated that foster care alumni were especially vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Peter Pecora, director of research for Casey Family Programs, said that a fourth of those studied reported symptoms of the disorder -- twice the rate of U.S. war veterans.

"It is a dramatic finding," he said, adding that national studies show that 12 percent to 13 percent of Iraq war veterans and 15 percent of Vietnam war veterans suffer from the disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in some people who experience or witness life-threatening events, such as violent personal assaults, military combat or serious accidents. They often relive the trauma through nightmares and flashbacks, and feel detached or estranged.


Blogger Kathleenb said...

now we need a study on PTSD in foster and adoptive parents...

12:17 PM  

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