There is a common, and dangerous, misconception that only combat veterans suffer PTSD. The events that cause PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are as varied as the people who struggle with it. So not only is PTSD not limited to military personnel, it is not an adult-only condition.
Our young people are on the front lines every day, and for some, the battle will overwhelm.
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a harmful, terrifying, or upsetting event. PTSD in teens can occur after traumatic events like car accidents, acts of violence, serious illness, and natural disasters, just to name a few. A set of symptoms will present which your teen may experience constantly, or be activated by a trigger.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD In Teens
You should watch for the same signs and symptoms of PTSD in teens as you do in adults. Every person is different so their symptoms will be different. It may be time to seek help if your teen is experiencing:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disengagement from people and activities they previously enjoyed
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Trouble with schoolwork/decline in grades
- Exaggerated startle response
School Shootings and PTSD In Teens
A major factor contributing to PTSD in teens and children is the rampant occurrence of school shootings. Students do not have to personally experience a school shooting to have major anxiety and suffer from PTSD because of them.
Going to school can be like being in a war zone every day, never knowing if the shots will ring out. The fact that schools now practice “Active Shooter Drills” is a reminder of how precarious a day in the life of a student can be, and how much stress it may put on them.
How To Deal With PTSD In Teens
The most important thing you can do if your teen is struggling with PTSD is to open the lines of communication. Make sure they know you are there to listen and understand, but let them open up at their pace. Do not force the issue, that will only heighten their anxiety.
If your teen has become withdrawn, try to get them to re-engage by planning activities they used to love. The more physically active, the better, as it can release endorphins to boost their mood as well as tire them out for, hopefully, better sleep.
Try to limit social media and traditional media like TV and radio. As new tragic events emerge and are reported, this can be a trigger and send them back into the dark hole from which they are trying to climb.
It is also wise to get your teen into professional counseling and treatment. This will help both your child and yourself to cope with PTSD.
You can contact Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital with your questions and concerns and to set up an assessment or appointment.