Many things can cause PTSD in teens. Your teen doesn't have to witness a war or suffer from abuse to develop this condition. An incident such as a school shooting, violent weather event, car crash, or any type of trauma can cause PTSD. Sometimes, the symptoms go away on their own with the passage of time. Other times, PTSD can affect your teen's life severely and get worse until professional help is sought at a place like Lifeline. Here's how to spot the symptoms of PTSD and how your child can be helped.
Symptoms Associated With PTSD In Teens
Teens often have erratic behavior due to hormonal swings so some unusual behavior may be normal. However, if your teen suddenly develops sleep problems such as insomnia or wanting to sleep all the time, it could indicate something is wrong. Personality disturbances may develop too, such as violence or fearfulness. Your teen may lose self-confidence or self-esteem and begin avoiding friends. Grades in school may suffer. The changes in your teen may be so dramatic that you suspect he or she is using drugs.
The type of symptoms your child displays depends in some part on the type of trauma they suffered and whether they are left feeling afraid, angry, or worthless. If you know of a traumatic event that has occurred in your teen's life, then it's a good idea to seek professional counseling even if symptoms are absent or mild. If your teen's behavior suddenly changes, you may want to consider a trauma has occurred, such as a rape, that you know nothing about. Professional counseling can help your teen even more when he or she won't turn to you.
Treatments For Teens With PTSD
Counseling can often be used as a form of mental first aid for teens. It may help your teen to talk about a trauma after it has occurred in order to process their feelings about it. However, effective treatment for PTSD can take other forms too. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches techniques such as learning to relax when thinking about the trauma so feelings of fear and anger disappear when thoughts about the event surface.
This helps your teen stop reliving the event. Other treatments such as EFT and EMDR use body movements and tapping on the body for a desensitizing effect. These active forms of treatment give your teen tools for dealing with the trauma so he or she can get over the fear and pain and move past it.
Remember that teens won't always tell you when they're afraid or hurting, so it's best to stay alert for problems during those turbulent years so you can get help for your child before a trauma or other life event causes your teen's social or academic life to spiral out of control.