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Psychophysiological characteristics of PTSD in children and adolescents: A review of the literature

Authors

  • Veronica Kirsch,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Ulm
    Current affiliation:
    1. Clinic for Child and Adolescence Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
    • Clinic for Child and Adolescence Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Ulm, Steinhövelstr. 5, 89075 Ulm, Germany
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  • Frank H. Wilhelm,

    1. University of Salzburg
    Current affiliation:
    1. Faculty for Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Health Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
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  • Lutz Goldbeck

    1. University of Ulm
    Current affiliation:
    1. Clinic for Child and Adolescence Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
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Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum for “Psychophysiological Characteristics of PTSD in Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Literature” Volume 24, Issue 3, 370–372, Article first published online: 29 April 2011

Abstract

This review summarizes studies investigating psychophysiological alterations associated with pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The authors conducted a computer-based search in the databases PsycINFO, PSYNDEXplus, and Medline. Additional studies were retrieved using a pyramid scheme. The literature search identified 29 articles. Most studies measured alterations shortly after exposure. Differences from controls emerged mainly in the sympathoadrenal system and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Elevated acute heart rate immediately after traumatization was associated with increased risk for PTSD. The literature on psychophysiological characteristics of pediatric PTSD is relatively small and diverse. Nevertheless, findings indicate exaggerated baseline activation across various measures. Studies examining the course and reversibility of psychophysiological alterations are lacking.

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