Teenagers who experience or witness a traumatic, terrifying event may exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms can interfere with their daily life and can lead to long-term anxiety disorders or higher risk for substance abuse.
However, Alpine Academy Utah reviews show that PTSD can be treated. With the right support and tools provided by the Teaching Family Model Alpine utilizes, teens who suffer from PTSD can go on to have very healthy, happy, and successful lives. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step.
Studies show that 7 out of 10 people who suffer from PTSD will have vivid nightmares that reenact the traumatic event.
This symptom should be taken seriously: it doesn’t just disrupt sleep or lead to daytime fatigue, but persistent nightmares have been linked to increased suicide attempts. Nightmares also relive the trauma, which can worsen or lengthen the symptoms of PTSD.
Teens who experience PTSD may have sudden and overwhelming flashbacks, where they don’t just remember but seem to re-experience the event—including sounds or strong feelings. The flashbacks may be triggered by something related to the trauma or happen randomly.
Avoidance and withdrawal
Teens may avoid situations that remind them of the trauma. They may refuse to talk about what happened or go to great lengths to avoid places or people that are connected to the event in any way.
In some cases, teens can emotionally withdraw. They may appear cold or distant or say, “I don’t care.” They may even stop activities that used to make them happy – quitting a sport, cutting off old friends.
To distract themselves from the feeling, they may become obsessed with a hobby or throw themselves into work or their studies. Others may use substances like alcohol or drugs which can help them “forget or escape”.
Nervousness and hypervigilance
Trauma threatens a person’s feeling of safety. They feel that “something bad can happen anytime”, which leads to a constant state of anxiety or stress.
This can manifest as being hyperactive and jittery: constantly moving to work off the nervous energy or being easily startled. Since their senses are already on Red Alert, they can overreact to small problems, and seem very moody and sensitive.
Aggression and irritability
Stress or trauma triggers a flight or fight response. While some teens may withdraw or become defense (as the earlier symptoms show), others will become more aggressive. They can get into fights in school, or yell and throw things around when they are upset.
The mind and body are closely linked, so emotional trauma can manifest as physical problems like stomachaches, headaches, nausea, or chills. They may also feel constantly tired or sleep the whole day.
PTSD can also affect appetite: either they have no desire to eat, or they overeat. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) says there is an “undeniable link” between untreated PTSD and a higher risk for anorexia and bulimia.
The symptoms and side effects of PTSD can interfere with teens’ behavior and performance in school. Since they have poor focus and concentration their grades may go down. They may also “space out” during lectures or skip classes completely.
Hope after PTSD
PTSD symptoms don’t go away on their own. It’s better to identify it, face it, and give teens a safe place to process their feelings, and the tools to overcome them.