Children enter foster care for various reasons, and many of those reasons involve trauma. For current and future foster parents, understanding teen PTSD can help them best meet their foster children’s needs. The first step is understanding what teen PTSD is and what it isn’t. Below, we’ve listed a couple of common myths about PTSD in teens. Do these myths sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time to brush up on your PTSD knowledge.
Myth #1: Teens Can’t Have PTSD
First, what is PTSD? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological disorder that can happen after a traumatic event. As many people already know, the stress of active combat can cause PTSD in military members.
However, some people don’t realize that civilians can experience PTSD, too. PTSD can occur after virtually any traumatic event, not just combat. A teenager who experienced a car crash, for example, might have PTSD as a result.
While combat-related PTSD absolutely deserves awareness, a general belief that PTSD is just a “military disorder” can harm civilian PTSD sufferers. Teens with PTSD may not recognize their symptoms, and if the adults in their lives don’t realize that teens can have PTSD, then they may not help those teens get the treatment that they need.
Myth #2: Flashbacks are Always Vivid and Realistic
As Tom Bunn explains in an article for Psychology Today, flashbacks can come in two broad categories: explicit and implicit. While an explicit flashback feels like reliving the traumatic event, an implicit flashback works differently. “Implicit flashbacks from early childhood can be powerful,” explained Bunn. “They can overtake a person…Even so, the person may have no idea that what they are feeling is a memory…the feelings naturally seem to belong to the present.”
Teens with PTSD may have flashbacks, but they may not realize that they’re having one, especially if their trauma occurred in early childhood. Those flashbacks may look like anger or anxiety, and, as Bunn said, these teens may assume that their feelings are coming from something in the present instead of from the past.
How You Can Help Your Foster Child With Teen PTSD
If you’re considering foster care, one of the best things you can do for your future foster children is to understand teen PTSD and childhood PTSD. Pathway Family Services offers foster care services for foster parents, including 24/7 support, free comprehensive training on PTSD and other topics, and much more. Take a look at Pathway Family Services to learn more about foster care and how you can start the process, or contact us with your questions.