A traumatic experience is defined as any event in life that poses a threat to our safety. It may endanger our own or others’ lives. As a result, a person experiences severe emotional, psychological, and bodily distress, which momentarily hinders their ability to function normally in daily life.
Teenagers who see a distressing or frightening incident are often troubled by these strong emotions. Even though these emotions usually subside as part of the body’s natural healing and recovery process, it is important for parents or guardians to understand how a teenager copes with distress and trauma in order to support and help the young person.
Teenagers can also be severely affected by local, national, or global tragedies, as well as trauma affecting their friends. Your teenager will experience trauma differently than younger children or adults. A Younger child is dependent on their family. However, many teens seek support from their friend group. To help them, parents must first understand how teens cope with issues.
Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Trauma
Each teenager will react differently to trauma. There are several ways in which the body reacts to traumatic events. A reaction might become unhealthy if the behavior and mood are prolonged and have an impact on your teenager’s lifestyle.
The following are symptoms and signs of emotional and psychological trauma:
• Denial or shock
• Concentration difficulties or a drop in academic performance
• Irritability as well as mood swings
• Shame and guilt
• Withdrawal from socializing
• Feeling low or hopeless
• Pains and aches
• Tension in the muscles
• Nightmares or insomnia
Teen Trauma and Panic Attacks
Teens often have panic attacks following a traumatic experience. Your teen may get overwhelmed by an unseen barrage of anxiety and panic for no apparent reason.
A panic attack, like a bad storm, appears and sounds worse than it is. Typically, the attack’s trigger is not hazardous. A traumatized child, on the other hand, perceives the threat as all too real. As a result, during a panic attack, your teen’s fear reaction may be substantially amplified in comparison to reality. Patience and love are required during this time.
When your child has a panic attack, you may do your best to help by calming and caring for them. It’ll pass. Even so, a panic episode might feel as though it lasts forever. This feeling has an impact on both the teen who is experiencing it and the parent who is witnessing it. It’s heartbreaking to see your child in the grip of a panic attack.
Adolescence and Independence
The journey from childhood to adulthood can be difficult. A teenager’s confidence as a youngster may fade. A teenager, unlike a younger child, is less dependent on their family. A younger kid recognizes that they cannot exist without their parents. Still, a teenager is more conscious of their ability to survive ‘on their own.’
Friends and peer groups are extremely important to teens. Adolescents can judge how ‘normal’ they are by comparing themselves to their friends. Following a traumatic event, teenagers frequently swing between independence and insecurity. This type of conflicting behavior may be bewildering for both the teenager and the parents trying to help them.
How Can You Help Teenagers Heal Traumatic Reactions?
1. Encourage the young person to talk without judging or counseling them until they want advice from you.
2. Show them that you truly care about them and love spending time with them.
3. Be open to discussing changes in roles and duties throughout recovery.
4. Don’t try to go back to how things were before the event.
5. Even if things are really challenging, continue to show love, support, and trust.
6. Remember that your teenager is the same person they were before the experience, even if they seem to be changed.
7. If asked, kindly tell the young person that they are having a normal reaction to a frightening experience and that these really intense feelings will subside in time.
When to seek professional help after a traumatic event?
Traumatic stress can trigger extremely strong emotions in some teens and can become chronic (ongoing).
The following are signs that you should seek professional assistance:
1. Their behavior is risky, irresponsible, or harmful.
2. They appear to be depressed or anxious all of the time.
3. They start to abuse substances such as cigarettes or alcohol, or their use dramatically increases.
4. They won’t tell you where they’re going, what they’re doing, or how they’re feeling.
5. They don’t appear to be making any progress.
6. Your teenager’s behavior makes no sense to you and seems entirely out of character.
7. You are concerned about them for any reason.
The Bottom Line With the help of the above signs and symptoms, you can help yourself or someone you know. You can even learn more about teen trauma and seek help by contacting The Center for Emotional Wellness