Adolescence, marked by rapid physical and emotional changes, is a vulnerable time for many. It’s also when teens are more likely to experience different forms of trauma. Understanding the signs of emotional trauma in teens can be the first step toward helping them navigate this challenging period.
Imagine Boise provides trauma-informed therapy for adolescents and teens ages 12-17. Our adolescent trauma therapy program is designed to provide comprehensive support for teens who do not need inpatient treatment. Your teen can get the help they need while still being able to keep up with their schoolwork, extracurriculars, and home life. Call 208.487.8260 to find help for your teen in our Idaho center.
Causes of Trauma During the Vulnerable Time of Adolescence
Adolescence is a transitional period when a child morphs into an adult. This stage is fraught with several challenges and experiences that can potentially trigger trauma. These may include:
- Bullying – With the rise of social media, bullying is not limited to school environments anymore. Cyberbullying can cause significant emotional distress.
- Domestic violence or abuse – Exposure to violence at home or being a survivor of abuse can lead to emotional trauma.
- Neglect – Lack of physical or emotional care from parents or guardians can make adolescents feel unloved and unwanted, leading to trauma.
- Peer pressure – The need to fit in and be accepted can lead to stress and anxiety, which can eventually turn into trauma.
- Loss or grief – The death of a loved one or a close friend can cause significant emotional upheaval.
If you suspect your teen is dealing with the effects of trauma, there are some signs you can recognize to know when to get them help.
5 Signs of Emotional Trauma in Teens
Emotional trauma can manifest in various ways. Here are five signs to look out for:
- Changes in behavior – Sudden changes in behavior, such as becoming withdrawn or aggressive, can be a sign of emotional trauma.
- Trouble concentrating – If your teen is finding it hard to focus on tasks they could previously handle with ease, it might indicate emotional distress.
- Physical symptoms – Unexplained headaches, stomachaches, or other physical discomforts can sometimes be manifestations of emotional trauma.
- Sleep disturbances – Changes in sleep patterns, like insomnia or excessive sleeping, could be a sign of underlying trauma.
- Unhealthy coping mechanisms – If your teen starts indulging in substance abuse or self-harm, it could be their way of coping with emotional pain.
When you spot these signs of trauma in your teen, professional trauma therapy can help them manage their symptoms and develop better coping skills. Not intervening at an early point can lead to a progression through different, more intense levels of emotional trauma.
The Stages of Trauma Disorders When Left Untreated
If emotional trauma in teens is left untreated, it can progress through several stages, leading to diagnosable trauma disorders. These stages are similar to the stages of grief and include:
- Shock and denial – The initial reaction to trauma is often shock, followed by denial. Your teen may seem numb or disconnected from reality.
- Anger and bargaining – As the shock wears off, anger sets in. They may also try to bargain or negotiate their way out of the situation.
- Depression and detachment – This stage involves feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in life.
- Reconciliation and acceptance – Eventually, the teen begins to accept the traumatic event and starts to reconcile with their feelings.
However, without proper help and intervention, a person might get stuck in one of these stages, leading to trauma disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex PTSD (C-PTSD).
Find Help for Your Teen’s Psychological Concerns at Imagine Boise
If you suspect your teen is experiencing psychological distress, our team at Imagine Boise can help. Our adolescent trauma therapy program is designed to provide comprehensive support for teens who do not need inpatient treatment.
Through evidence-based individual, group, and family therapy methods, we can help your teen manage their trauma symptoms and develop better coping skills. Our therapists also provide resources that teens can use when they feel overwhelmed or stressed.