Often, parents don’t realize that their teenagers are going through some tough times and have emotional trauma. It can lead to some terrible consequences. Hence, parents must focus on reading about emotional trauma symptoms in teens. To help you out, we have created this resourceful article.
There could be many reasons for trauma symptoms in teens. They might vary from an unwanted event to constant stress. Often, traumatic events can be partly or completely blocked from a teen’s memory. So, connecting traumatic stress symptoms to those half-remembered events can be a huge task. Healing often requires more time, but it’s possible. Remember, nobody chooses trauma. It is forced upon them.
In simple words, trauma is something that is forced upon you. It is always unwanted. It can vary from being a single event, like being trapped during a natural disaster, a car accident, or even an act of sexual assault. It can also mean a series of small incidents like school bullying, constant stress, or even a life-threatening illness.
In most cases, a person won’t be able to process the event, and their brain will freeze and go into a state of shock. Often, the logical side of the brain goes offline when the event causing trauma is happening or after it. As a result, the experience gets stored in the emotional side of a person’s brain.
How to Know Your Teenagers’ Behaviors are Signs of Traumatic Stress?
As a parent, you might be aware of any traumatic events that your teen has gone through. Often, teenagers choose not to share traumatic events with their parents for many reasons, like the fear of being blamed for the unfortunate event. Also, traumatic stress symptoms can take years to appear, as the teen might have blocked them out. So, even if the teen doesn’t have conscious memories of a traumatic event, their body can remember it and manifest PTSD symptoms.
Emotional Trauma Symptoms
In such cases, parents need to know about and recognize the traumatic stress symptoms or symptoms of emotional trauma on their own. Here are some of them.
- Self-harm or talk about self-harm
- Avoidance symptoms
- Suicidal gestures or thoughts
- Lack of self-worth
- Chronic shame
- Higher than usual struggle to stick to the rules
- Depressive thoughts and feelings
- Substance abuse
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Trouble at school
- Lack of self-care
- Less communication and more silent behavior
- Attraction to negative peer groups
- Dramatic changes in hobbies or interests
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Several nightmare or insomnia incidents
- Easily getting startled
- Difficulty in concentration
- Trying to recreate traumatic events
If you witness some of these symptoms in your teen and they last longer, it might be that your teen is struggling with trauma. Remember, some of these symptoms are normal teenage struggles, like changes in appetite could be due to a new trend on social media. Still, if these symptoms last exceptionally long or you witness multiple symptoms, you must be aware. They might be symptoms of trauma.
How to Help Your Teen Struggling with PTSD or Emotional Trauma Symptoms?
The key reaction of every parent who recognizes the trauma symptoms in teens is to try and take the pain away and fix the situation. If you think the same, you must stop yourself from doing that. It would help if you accepted that when trauma is involved, you can’t fix it or take the pain away. The maximum you can do is to support your teen.
Let your teen gently know that you are there for them but don’t try to force the truth out of them or use emotional blackmail. If your teen wants space or time, you have to give it to them. Meanwhile, try to maintain some normalcy in your teen’s life. Let them do the things they enjoy, like shopping with friends, watching a game on TV on the weekends, or playing guitar. Don’t mention the trauma often; let the teen bring it up if they want to.
When your teen opens up to you, let them talk without many interruptions and express themselves. Let them experience the emotions, be it crying or feeling pain, without interrupting. They need that. You might want to wipe away their tears and offer comfort, but please don’t do that. Remember, healing will take time, and you and your teen must be patient.
Parents can help the teen decide when to open up, how much to share, and what kind of help they want to heal. This allows the teen to think they have some control.
If a teen is using unhealthy methods to cope, like substance abuse or self-harm, you need to highlight that you know of it and remind them that there are healthier ways to overcome trauma and heal.
One of the healthiest ways to overcome trauma is to talk to a therapist. Another is to find a local support group, and one more is to seek the assistance of a residential treatment center. You and your teen can also try newer methods like equine therapy or trauma-sensitive yoga. Be there with your teen if they want, or let them go alone if they need space. Ask them what they want.
Talk to a Teen Expert!
If you have trouble talking to your teen about trauma and want an expert’s help on how to proceed, then you can talk to an expert. You can trust me, Michelle Mehta, a certified professional co-active coach, an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. I am passionate about helping teenagers feel authentic, empowered, worthy, loved and helping them create a sense of belonging and believe that the world needs their talents. So, if you feel you’re called to have your teenager work with me, let’s set up a time to talk and connect. I look forward to Empowering Your Teenager to Shine with Confidence. To know more about how I can offer help, please click here.