Is my teen struggling with PTSD? What are the signs of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can affect people of all ages. PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people (even young people) who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous or traumatic event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it.
People affected by PTSD are troubled by disturbing thoughts, memories, and flashbacks, and associated thoughts for weeks, months, or even years after the traumatic event.
Common causes of PTSD in teenagers can be:
- physical or sexual abuse, or assault
- school or neighborhood violence
- natural disasters or fires
- car accidents
- sudden or forceful loss of a parent
- loss of a close relative or friend
- arrests, evictions (loss of home)
- being the target of hate, or threats of harm
Symptoms of PTSD
- bad memories, called flashbacks, that make it seem like the trauma is still happening
- bad dreams or trouble sleeping
- avoiding things that remind them of the trauma
- changes in mood, such as feeling sad, moody, angry, or detached
- not enjoying things like before (dropping out of their favorite activities)
- feeling more easily scared, anxious, jumpy, sensitive, or startled
- skipping classes or school (underachieving, failing)
Therapy can help people recover from PTSD. They also need understanding, comfort, and support from people (parents) in their lives.
Not everyone who has been through a trauma will have PTSD. Most people find ways to cope and get past trauma. Therapy and support soon after a trauma can help. Although some people say that youth are resilient, however especially with teenagers, trauma can stick in their memory and effect their mental health if it’s not addressed.
If your teen has been through a traumatic event and you have exhausted your local resources, therapy hasn’t worked, you may want to consider residential treatment. Contact us for more information on teen help resources for PTSD.