Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Children Under 6: A Comprehensive Review of the New Diagnosis


Research has shown that a significant number of young children will experience a traumatic event at some point during their lifetime.  These experiences have also been shown to lead to negative reactions and adverse outcomes if not properly addressed and treated.  Sometimes individuals who experience these traumatic events develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, concern about the under-diagnosis of PTSD in young children has only recently led to the creation of a subtype specifically for children ages six and under.  This paper reviews and critically evaluates the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (5th ed.; DSM-5; APA, 2013) novel PTSD subtype and empirical research supporting this new addition.  Additionally, this paper summarizes empirical findings regarding the presentation of PTSD in young children and highlights areas for future research.

Keywords: childhood trauma, DSM-5, posttraumatic stress disorder


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