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What Are the Signs of Trauma in Teens?

Person thinking about trauma in teens

By the time they reach adolescence, most teens have lived through at least one traumatic experience. This kind of experience may only have a short-term impact on your child. However, significant numbers of teens go on to develop longer-term, trauma-related issues. Unless they’re successfully resolved, these issues can contribute to serious mental health concerns. If your child is affected, a teen trauma therapy program can help. Does your child need trauma therapy? It’s possible if you notice certain potential signs of a lingering traumatic reaction. Call 888.291.2309 to learn more about the teen trauma therapy program at Imagine Fort Collins in Colorado.

Understanding Teenage Trauma

A traumatic event creates circumstances that severely strain the natural human ability to handle stress. Often, this happens because you feel that your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger. Less threatening situations can also produce stress levels high enough to exceed your capacity to cope.

At age 16, roughly 66% of all American teens have a history of trauma exposure. Almost 20% of all teens have been exposed to multiple traumas. Forms of exposure common by that age include:

  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Violence between their parents
  • Parental divorce
  • Serious accidents and health issues
  • Community violence
  • School violence
  • Bullying

While most teens quickly recover from traumatic experiences, many do not. Unresolved teenage trauma is linked to increased risks for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s also linked to higher risks for anxiety disorders and depression. In addition, a history of early life trauma boosts the odds that your child will develop drug or alcohol problems.

Signs That Point to the Presence of Trauma in Teens

Signs are outward indicators that something might be affecting your teen. The signs of trauma in teens aren’t always the same. However, some external expressions of trauma are more common than others. The list of the most common reactions includes:

  • An unusual overreaction to minor problems or annoyances
  • Withdrawal from social contact
  • A down or depressed mood
  • Increased expressions of cynicism or pessimism
  • Lack of interest in favored hobbies or activities
  • Declining interest in school or grades
  • Unusual changes in your child’s sleep or eating habits

Your teen may frequently refer to past trauma in conversation. In addition, they may return to certain behaviors they have already outgrown. For example, your child may become unusually rebellious or start shirking everyday responsibilities. You may also notice other troubling signs. Some traumatized teens start drinking or taking drugs. Others start talking about death, dying, or suicide.

How Trauma Therapy for Teens Can Help

Trauma therapy focuses on overcoming the effects of lingering trauma in teens. It does so by helping your child talk about traumatic experiences and work through them in healthy ways. One of the most common adolescent trauma treatments is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapy helps teens recognize how unresolved trauma affects their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It also shows them how to undo those effects and replace them with healthier responses.

Effective trauma therapy for teens may also include options such as psychodynamic therapy or a CBT subtype called prolonged exposure. In addition, some teens benefit from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Find Adolescent Trauma Treatment in Colorado at Imagine Fort Collins

Want to know more about how to spot signs of trauma in teens? The teen mental health professionals at Imagine Fort Collins are here for you. We can answer any question you may have about the telltale signs of trauma. We can also provide advice on the potential need for treatment. With our help, your child can begin an effective recovery from trauma’s damaging effects. Contact Imagine Fort Collins today at 888.291.2309 to learn more. We’re also available through our online contact form.