If your teen has lived through a traumatic experience such as a death, a natural disaster or abuse, they might exhibit signs of a mental health condition known as PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here are 5 things you should know about this diagnosis.
1. What is Trauma?
The first thing you need to understand about PTSD that it originates in trauma. Some examples of a traumatic experience include death, physical injury, natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse or witnessing an unsettling event. This event can cause damage to a person’s psyche, emotional distress or even physical injury.
2. Possible Physical Effects
Responses to trauma can manifest in physical ways. Besides possible injury from the traumatic event itself, teens living with PTSD can experience symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains, bed-wetting or an inability to sleep.
3. Possible Emotional Effects
There are many emotional effects that can also take place after experiencing a traumatic incident including, but not limited to, fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, depression, withdrawal and emotional numbness. These may pass with time and proper support.
4. Potential for Retraumatizing
We might assume that once a traumatic experience is over, all a person struggling with PTSD needs to do is find a way to move forward. However, certain people, places, events, memories, words or other associations have the potential to retraumatize an individual. This can cause nightmares, flashbacks or relived emotions. It is important to recognize and communicate openly about possible triggers with your teen if they are living with PTSD.
5. How to Cope
Individuals living with PTSD have the potential to live a full and enjoyable life with proper care, support and positive coping strategies. Some ways of coping include building support networks, attending therapy, sharing experiences with others, grieving, building a routine and slowly facing their fears. If your child struggles with PTSD, help them to seek the support of a mental health professional.
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