Helping Your Teenager Cope with Psychological Trauma

Psychologically traumatic events occur in all of our lives, but some happen to inexperienced youth who are ill-equipped to handle the emotions that come with it. Understanding the effects of this trauma, the symptoms associated with it, and the best methods of treatment are vital in helping teens overcome the adverse impact it can have on their lives.

What is Psychological Trauma?

Psychological trauma is any mental or emotional symptom that can alter a person’s well-being after a life-altering event. This type of trauma can impact someone immediately or can occur months later, as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. It is important to understand what events can cause this type of trauma so that it can be dealt with quickly and effectively.

Examples of Psychological Trauma

Unfortunately, the list of traumatic life events is long. But a few stand out as being particularly painful, including:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse/Rape
  • Domestic abuse
  • Death of a loved one
  • Car Accident/Major injuries
  • Serious illness
  • Ending a long-term romantic relationship
  • Being bullied
  • Witnessing violent acts

Psychological Trauma Symptoms in Teens

Teenagers with psychological trauma may not be able to verbalize or understand their own emotions, thoughts, or feelings after a traumatic event. You may notice physical signs such as unexplained headaches, new bouts of insomnia, or a loss of appetite. They can have nightmares, be on edge, or exhibit a variety of other psychological trauma symptoms such as:

  • Shock 
  • Denial
  • Confusion/Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger/Mood swings
  • Anxiety/Fear
  • Guilt/Shame
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Sadness/Hopelessness
  • Feeling numb

How You Can Help Your Teenager with Psychological Trauma

Open Communication

Provide a safe atmosphere so your teenager feels they can say anything they need to about the traumatic event. Listening without judgment is vital while they are sharing feelings of anger, guilt, doubt, or any other frustrations. Be brief and honest when talking about the incident and answer any questions they have.

Safe Environment

A traumatic event can cause a teenager to have mood swings as they try to cope with the range of emotions that can occur. Remaining calm is helpful in this situation to provide a safe environment of stability. Staying close to your teenager by sitting near them, touching them on the arm, or hugging them, provides a feeling of security.

Resume Routines

A teenager with psychological trauma can easily shut down, withdraw, sleep all day, or turn to drugs or alcohol to take away their pain or numb their emotions. Maintain any family rules or routines to show them life will be okay again. It is important to be aware of their needs and encourage positive behaviors like eating meals, getting dressed each day, taking walks, or exercising.

Remain Calm

Your teenager is looking to you for reassurance after any traumatic occurrences. Be aware of your tone of voice and emotions so that your child does not pick up on your own anxiety. Don’t assume they are worried about the same things you are. 

Getting Teens Treatment for Psychological Trauma

If you notice your teenager is not dealing well with a difficult situation, it is vital to reach out to people experienced in treating this type of trauma. The experts at Orange County Behavioral Health provide the best psychological trauma treatment for teens. Reach out to us today by calling 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223.

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