Understanding The Effects of Teenage Trauma
Sundance Canyon Academy has helped many boys and their families with understanding the effects of teenage trauma, which is why we’re writing on the topic. As a facility that helps troubled youth, we help young men by having them work with our specialized therapy team at a residential treatment facility. If you feel you need help for your son please call us today.
As parents, we want to protect our children from everything that can hurt them. Despite our best efforts though, bad things can still happen. When teens experience extremely stressful events, it can cause psychological and emotional trauma. These events can be perceived as extremely dangerous or can actually be life-threatening. In either case, traumatic experiences can lead to unhealthy behaviors if they are not addressed. The effects of teenage trauma are far-reaching and can impact every area of life.
Common Types Of Teen Trauma
Teen trauma is surprisingly common. Traumatic experiences can come in many forms. A few common sources of trauma for children and teens include:
Experiencing or witnessing an accident
Death of a friend or family member
Illness of a friend or family member
Physical, mental, or sexual abuse
When we experience an extremely stressful event, our brains enter “fight or flight” mode and release chemicals that are designed to help us get through the situation. In the moment, our main goal is to get out of the dangerous situation and get back to safety. However, that chemical process can have lasting effects that keep us in “fight or flight” mode even after the initial event is over.
If teens have also experienced emotional or psychological trauma in childhood, they can have exacerbated stress responses in their teenage years. These stress responses can show up in everyday life as negative behaviors. Many common behavioral problems in teens and tweens stem from traumatic events.
Signs And Symptoms Of Trauma
Some common signs and symptoms of trauma include:
Sleep problems This can include insomnia, sleeping too much, or having nightmares that disrupt sleep. After experiencing traumatic events, it is common for people to have nightmares about the event or that generally keep their stress levels up even during sleep. Sleeping too much can be a sign of depression, which is also common after experiencing traumatic events.
Being on-edge or agitated Because traumatic events activate the “fight or flight” stress response, it is common for people to stay in that state. This is especially true for teens who have experienced numerous traumatic experiences.
Experiencing high levels of anxiety Teen trauma can lead to higher levels of anxiety, especially surrounding the activities from the specific traumatic event. They might become more anxious and leary of the world in general or about specific activities. For example, teens who have gotten into a bad car wreck can become especially anxious about riding in cars. In extreme situations, the heightened anxiety can lead to panic attacks.
Avoiding people, places, or activities that are associated with the traumatic event Our stress responses function to help protect us from harm. When we experience a high level of stress and fear during a specific activity, we might avoid that activity in the future. This is completely fine in some situations, but it can cause lifelong problems in others. If your child is trying to avoid people, places, or activities that can’t be avoided, they may need help overcoming their trauma.
Shutting down or feeling numb towards life Sometimes, experiencing negative feelings associated with trauma is too much for us to handle. When that’s the case, our brains can shut down our feelings and make us numb rather than feeling pain. Teen trauma can lead to shutting down rather than engaging with the people and activities that they used to enjoy.
It is not unusual for teens to show these signs and symptoms immediately after a traumatic event. If the symptoms last for more than a month, consider seeking outside help. If your son’s response to trauma is having lasting negative effects, consider a therapeutic boarding school. Schools like Sundance Canyon Academy surround the students with therapists who know how to help teens with trauma.