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Can Trauma Affect Teenage Brain Development?

troubled teenager with head in hands thinking about how trauma can affect teenage brain development

There have been many studies conducted exploring the connection between stress and brain development in early childhood and adolescence. These studies have led to advances in the field of teenage brain development, as well as improvement of teen and adolescent trauma therapy programs. Much more is now understood about what stress is and how it can impact the brain development of a teenager. Learning more about trauma and adolescent brain development, as well as the effects of trauma on teens, can be helpful. This is especially true for parents and loved ones trying to understand more about their teenagers who may be struggling with the aftereffects of trauma. Call 888.597.2807 now to learn more about teen and adolescent trauma therapy.

What Are the Effects of Trauma on the Developing Brain?

Even though most people might think that the younger a child is, the less that stress in the family will impact them, this is not supported by science. Traumatic or highly stressful events can cause the brain to emit chemicals that support a “fight or flight” response. When the trauma or stress goes on for an extended period of time or is not appropriately processed, the child’s brain can get stuck in that “fight or flight” mode. This impacts the construction of neural pathways in the brain, which are essential for learning, gaining new skills, and developing physical abilities.

What Are the Effects of Trauma on the Mental Health of Young People?

From a psychological standpoint, when a young person is experiencing a toxic level of stress, they will focus most of their attention and brainpower on trying to relieve or escape that stress. Studies have shown that children who are not getting their needs met through conventional channels will develop their own techniques and strategies in an attempt to get those needs met. This response to stress and trauma, while understandable, can lead to psychological and behavioral problems. Some of the ways in which this can manifest are:

  • Difficulties focusing on schoolwork and extracurricular activities
  • Being cynical or overly pessimistic
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Withdrawing or self-isolating
  • Becoming overly independent or exhibiting “adult-like” behavior
  • Sleep problems
  • Blowing up with little or no provocation

How Can Teen and Adolescent Trauma Therapy Help?

The main goal of trauma-focused therapy is to help the patient regain a feeling of safety and security. This is achieved through a number of different therapeutic methods, all of which allow the teenager to uncover, identify, and appropriately process their feelings around stress and traumatic events. Participation in a trauma therapy program can help adolescent patients heal from toxic stress and trauma, leading to an increased sense of confidence and well-being. The development of good stress management skills can also be a part of trauma therapy, which can help teenagers grow into healthy and well-adjusted adults.

The processes in the brain that deal with stress and trauma responses are very malleable, especially during periods of growth and development. This is also referred to as “neuroplasticity.” Because adolescents are undergoing a time of significant developmental changes, patients who receive trauma therapy are in an excellent position to benefit from it.

Imagine by Northpoint Can Help Your Teen Heal From Trauma Near Boise, Idaho

Our treatment center serves patients between the ages of 12 and 17 who are struggling with mental health and behavioral challenges. We are committed to helping our patients and their families start the healing process and work towards a healthier, happier future. If you or a loved one has a teenager exposed to highly stressful or traumatic environments, please contact Imagine by Northpoint. Reach out to our caring and knowledgeable staff members today at 888.597.2807 and let us tell you what we can do to help.