Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), relates to those who have participated in combat, but it is often not discussed outside of this framework. In actuality, anyone who experienced or witnessed trauma has PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD can be particularly challenging for teenagers. PTSD can present in multiple ways including, flashbacks, difficulties with concentration, hypervigilance, and emotional numbing. Without treatment that includes, education and support teenagers may not understand their symptoms, leaving them to struggle in navigating their feelings and responses to their environment.
Education makes a major shift as a student enters adolescence. The educational expectations shift from the responsibility of the parent or caregiver to monitor homework completion and study habits to the majority of the onus falling on the teen. Students suffering from PTSD can experience difficulties with concentration and fall behind in academic pursuits. Without a diagnosis and treatment, the student could be viewed as disinterested or unequipped to academically succeed.
The transitional period between childhood and adulthood comes with expected interpersonal challenges. Additionally, for teenagers with untreated PTSD, the challenges become a very heavy burden. The severity of flashbacks can vary. Further, the youth may experience flashbacks that feel as if the traumatic event is reoccurring. The physical response to flashbacks can mimic the original response with an increased heart rate, cold sweat, inability to move, or desire to flee. Without education, the teenager may unfairly blame themselves and question why they aren’t like their peers, which is of particular importance during this developmental stage.
As one enters adolescence the prospects of entering relationships are often exciting. At this time in life one begins to make choices about who they want to spend time with whether that is in pursuit of friendships or romantic relationships. Additionally, relationships with caregivers also change as the teen’s independence and ability to develop their own views and opinions increase. Building and maintaining relationships can be tricky for adults but can be overwhelming for teenagers with PTSD. Indeed, they may experience numbing to avoid emotional hurt and pain. Numbing may offer some relief but will also prevent the teen from reaping the rewards of healthy relationships and result in being emotionally absent from their own life.
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Teenagers experiencing symptoms of PTSD are likely to benefit from treatment. This includes individual, family/caregiver, group, and psychiatric interventions to provide support and symptomatic relief. Contact us to learn more.