Recognizing and treating teenage trauma

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can happen to anyone, and this includes children and teens. According to PSYCOM, research reveals that an estimated 40% of children and teens will experience at least one traumatic event. Some people are able to bounce back or return to a state of normalcy after such an event. Others, however, have a more difficult time coping with the trauma and feel forever changed, even forever damaged. Trauma can be personally experienced or it can be witnessed. Some examples of situations that can be traumatic are an being involved in an accident, sexual assault or abuse, a natural disaster, physical assault, or witnessing domestic or community violence. Seeing your child go through something traumatic can be heart breaking and it will require compassion and care from parents and caregivers.

Some children and teens experience the following reactions after a traumatic experience:

· Flashbacks or nightmares about the incident

· Difficulty focusing at school or on school work

· Avoiding situations that bring to mind the traumatic event

· Feelings of emotional numbness

· Anxiety or fears of being alone, in the dark, in the car, without the parent, etc.

· Nervousness and feeling on edge

· Acting out aggressively toward themselves or others

· Playing in a way that repeats the trauma

There are varying forms of treatment for PTSD, and if a parent suspects their child is suffering from it, treatment should be sought out. There is a good chance, however, that a child or teen will recover on their own with time, patience, understanding and support. If you are worried about your child, do not hesitate to have your child or teen’s symptoms and behaviors evaluated. This will help your family choose the best treatment and lead you all toward a path of recovery.

Common counseling treatment approaches include:

· Play Therapy. Play therapy is great for younger children who may have a difficult time expressing their feelings. Through various methods of play and art therapy, they are often able to express these feelings in a way that the therapist can recognize so appropriate help can be given and new ways of coping can be learned.

· Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is a form of counseling in which the counselor helps the person recognize negative thoughts, beliefs and fears they may be having in regard to the trauma, people, or events surrounding the trauma. Relaxation and stress management skills are also taught and practiced.

· Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This therapy uses guided eye movement exercises or bilateral stimulation as the child or teen recalls the traumatic images and works through their fears and beliefs about themselves as a result.

· Medication. Whereas no medication can cure PTSD, it can help relieve symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

Childhood PTSD or depression that is left untreated has a great likelihood of recurring on into adulthood. For this reason, it is very important for parents to take their child to a doctor or counselor if they suspect their child is suffering from depression. Depression is very treatable, and includes a multi-faceted approach including individual and/or family counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, healthy lifestyle, exercise or physical movement, healthy meal planning, effective communication, mindfulness and medication. At eSupport, we provide treatment for depression and skills that will help calm the mind and body after traumatic incidents. Take a look here to learn more about CBT: Take a look here to learn more about EMDR and how it may help you or your teen: and click here to give us a call and get started feeling better today:

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