How Do I Know If My Child Has PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that describes the symptoms experienced after an individual lives through a traumatic event. PTSD can manifest differently for people of various ages, but here are some signs that your teen may need support for this condition.

Recognizing Trauma

The first step in evaluating if your teen is living with PTSD is to recognize whether or not they have had any traumatic experiences. Some examples of a traumatic experience include death, physical injury, natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse or witnessing an unsettling event. It is with such a lived experience, in partnership with the following systems, that may suggest that your teen has PTSD.

Avoidance and Disconnection

After experiencing trauma, the resulting emotional and physical effects can be quite uncomfortable. A child with PTSD may intentionally or unintentionally avoid things that remind them of the incident including thoughts, feelings, places or people as a result. In addition, they may also disconnect themselves from emotions or relationships in order to numb negative feelings. They may also choose to numb negative emotions by engaging in increased risky behaviors such as abusing drugs or alcohol or partaking in unsafe sex. Pay attention if your teen appears to be out of touch with their emotions or friendships more than usual.


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Re-experiencing Traumatic Events

Reliving traumatic events is a common symptom of PTSD. This can take the form of flashbacks or nightmares and may result in a retraumatization for your teen. Try to recognize what triggers strong, negative reactions out of your teen and work on strategies to deal with these sparks in a positive manner.

Hyperactivity and Hypersensitivity

If your teen seems to be overly sensitive, easily angered, irritable and has difficulty sleeping, this might be an indication of PTSD. Often senses and reactions are heightened after experiencing a traumatic event, so take note of this instability as a potential symptom.

How to respond?

If your teen exhibits any of these symptoms following a traumatic event, be sure to contact your family doctor or a mental health care professional.

Feature image Leo Hidalgo