Teen Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Avery’s House is a teen mental health treatment center in Arizona. Our specialized behavioral health professionals work with adolescents to evaluate, diagnose, and stabilize various teen mental health conditions, including PTSD.

For many teen trauma survivors, a diagnosis of PTSD is appropriate. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects up to 43% of children and teens. Exploring teen therapy options is a vital part of trauma treatment.

Trauma affects everyone in different ways. When encountering life’s difficulties, some people have difficulty moving forward. This is true for children, teens, and adults.

When a person endures traumatic events, they may struggle to heal. Life as they knew it now seems impossible. Daily activities are overwhelming. Emotions become anchors that limit productivity.

Knowing the symptoms, causes, and effects of PTSD on teens is crucial. A therapist can help in making a diagnosis. They can then create a treatment plan that promotes healing and growth.

Understanding what treatment options exist can lead to lifelong success. That is why it is necessary to start the teen’s therapy as soon as possible. This is how adolescents can overcome trauma and no longer let life overwhelm them.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

As the name says, post-traumatic stress disorder is how some people respond to trauma. PTSD can happen to anyone. It’s not a mental health problem experienced only by military veterans.

Any type of event can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. If a trauma creates fear for life or well-being, it could bring on this response. This includes fear for one’s own life or even for the safety of a loved one.

Having PTSD interrupts the ability to deal with regular life activities. The stress of this trauma affects people who experience this mental illness. Their brains are unable to process the coping skills needed to overcome.

Unlike some other mental health conditions, PTSD symptoms do not typically self-improve with time. The untreated post-traumatic patient can become more anxious and fearful. It is uncommon for PTSD to improve on its own.

Knowing the symptoms of this illness can lead to productive and effective therapy and healing.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Recognizing if someone has PTSD is critical to achieving quick, effective progress. Each person’s mental wellness is individual. Yet there are some general signs indicating this illness.

Here are some symptoms to watch for:

  • Disruptions in sleep patterns
    • Nightmares
    • Sleeplessness
    • Interrupted sleep
  • Fear of trauma recurrence
  • Experiencing flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Overwhelmed by fear
  • Repeated discussion of the trauma
  • Refusal to speak about the event
  • Avoidance of reminders
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Irrational anger or being irritable
  • Being extra sensitive
  • Feelings of anxiety and stress
  • Being overwhelmed by life
  • Less interested in life activities
  • Loss of focus or ability to concentrate
  • Experiencing depression
  • Being emotionally and mentally numb

Some physical symptoms may appear in people dealing with PTSD. They can include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Being dizzy
  • Feeling weak
  • Gastrointestinal pain and ailments
  • Feeling fatigued

What Causes PTSD?

Not everyone who has trauma will experience PTSD as an automatic response. But there are specific things that may cause this disorder reaction for some people.

These causes can include:

  • The severity of the traumatic event
  • Whether they received significant support following trauma
  • Other stress factors in their life
  • Whether there have been previous traumas (such as sexual abuse)
  • Earlier diagnoses of depression or anxiety
  • Genetics and whether there is a familial tendency for depression

The reality of PTSD is that the cause may not be apparent. One person with every pre-existing factor may survive trauma without experiencing a further challenge. Yet others may fall into the category of one who has known causes.

Among children and adolescents, PTSD can result from abuse in 30% of the documented cases. This includes neglect and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

It’s important to realize that some who develop PTSD may not have any apparent roots. It’s a mental health illness with continued research for better understanding.

How Teens May React When Affected by PTSD

Teenagers affected by PTSD may worry that their mental health will never improve. They realize that something is off in how they’ve responded to trauma. Yet they are unsure how to move forward to the life they dream about.

Some teens may notice changes in their thoughts and behavior, including:

  • Always having feelings of guilt over the event
  • Acting angry and irritable for no reason
  • Imagining ways to get revenge for what happened
  • Acting out (with aggression, impulsiveness, or disruption)
  • Behaving with disrespect through words and actions

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects teenagers. When it does, they will need to seek professional therapy treatments.

There are also ways teens can help themselves in the healing process. There are habits and behaviors they can include in day-to-day living.

These include examples like:

  • Talk to a Professional: Teen therapy for PTSD is critical to treatment success. Getting a professional to talk to can be an excellent step toward healing. A teen needs a therapist specializing in PTSD. Or they need a counselor who understands the specifics associated with trauma. Being honest in therapy is a positive reaction a teen can have to post-traumatic stress.
  • Share with an Adult: Whether choosing to talk with a parent, teacher, or doctor, talking to a trusted adult is essential. Talking in a safe setting can help a teen feel less anxious. Then they can feel more secure and better heal from the trauma.
  • Encourage the Mind: Reminders that things will not be this hard forever are good. This can counterbalance the memories of the terrible way the trauma has harmed a person. Teens can encourage themselves as they heal. By imagining the ways they can have future success, teens can move forward in their journey.
  • Understand the Emotions: Fear can be an overwhelming feeling. So can anxiety and anger. Teens with PTSD can experience emotions that seem uncontrollable. When this happens, participation in their treatment can lead to empowerment.

Effective Ways Parents Can Help Teens With PTSD

Parents of children who’ve experienced trauma may notice the signs of PTSD. Once they realize they need treatment, they will likely choose a professional to help.

Treatment should start with a specific therapist trained in helping teens with PTSD. Also, here are some ideas of ways parents can help their teens in the healing process:

  1. Offer Comfort: Letting traumatized children know that they are safe is primary. Trauma will cause a feeling of isolation and heighten fear. Offering comfort in the face of that reaction lets them know they are not alone.
  2. Offer Reassurance: Sometimes, the act of a parent letting their teen know they are with them is reassuring. Talking about the trauma damage can lead to a healing-filled future. This is what a teenager needs to overcome PTSD.
  3. Offer Distraction: When traumatized, once familiar and enjoyable tasks can seem foreign. Parents can engage in simple, daily activities with their teens. Living life alongside the teenager can distract from the negative impacts of PTSD. This can include a range of tasks. Examples include shopping, house cleaning, playing video games, and listening to music. The important thing is that parents and children do them together. This offers a way of recharging through positive emotions and natural conversation.
  4. Offer Relaxation: Whatever the trauma, taking time to relax is critical to the teen’s treatment therapy. Engage in conscious-minded breathing. Stare at the clouds in a summer sky. Take a walk in nature. Paint a picture. How a family chooses to slow life down and relax adds to how a parent helps their teen with PTSD.
  5. Offer Support: Parents are often the most important people for teenagers. It is true. However, other adults have significant roles in shaping a teen’s life. This is especially true when it comes to healing from PTSD.
    1. Doctor: Parents should ensure the teen’s doctor knows what they are experiencing. Doctors can offer referrals for teen PTSD therapy and treatment options necessary.
    2. Teacher: Teachers spend many hours each week with their students. It’s important to inform them of any trauma a child has experienced. This may allow the teacher to give extra time for work or help stay focused.

Therapy Options for Teens with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The best course of action to overcome PTSD is therapy for the still-developing brains of children and adolescents. Symptoms and causes lead to a diagnosis. Then, it’s time to choose the best counseling and medication options.

PTSD Therapy

A teen’s therapist should specialize in one of the treatment options focused on PTSD. While counseling is better than none, choosing a PTSD-specific treatment is best.

They include:

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most often used treatments. This is because it’s effective. Trauma-focused versions of CBT encourage discussion of remembered, specific details of the trauma. This method of treatment can do several things. It promotes self-assertion and changes inaccurate beliefs about the trauma. It can lower stress and anxiety.
  2. Psychological First Aid (PFA): Sometimes, a community endures an act of violence that affects a group of children and adolescents. In this case, PFA is effective in school settings. Comfort and care are offered. Then, further recommendations for counseling may occur. This would be for those teens experiencing more profound psychological responses to the trauma.
  3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Using a combination of CBT and directed eye movement, EMDR is recognized as an effective treatment for PTSD. Parents wanting this option should seek out a specifically-trained therapist for this method.
  4. Internal Family Systems Model of Therapy for Trauma: IFS is a method that involves helping the patient recognize the differences between the Self and the various Parts that have been affected by trauma. It is a fairly new approach that has shown great promise.
  5. Experimental Therapy Options: As time and research progress, other treatment options may be available. Work with a professional therapist to determine whatever treatment’s suitable for your teen.

Medications

Talking with a PTSD therapist is an excellent treatment option. There are teens whose therapy treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder would benefit from something more.

A conversation between the therapist, parents, and patient should occur to discuss further options. Sometimes the use of medication is needed to further the healing. Once there is an agreed-upon plan, a professional therapist will prescribe the appropriate medicinal treatment.

The best prescription medications for treating this mental illness are SSRIs and SNRIs. SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SNRIs are serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Typically used as antidepressants, these medications can relieve anxiety, sadness, stress, and even nerve pain.

There are many prescription options available to treat PTSD. The four most effective forms of the approved medicines are:

  • Sertraline (also called Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (also called Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (also called Prozac)
  • Venlafaxine (also called Effexor)

Avery’s House Offers Teen Therapy for PTSD

Trauma can happen at any time, on any day. It does not stop considering whether you are a child, an adult, or a teen. If we are alive, traumatic things can (and will) occur.

Many encounter such stressful times and are then diagnosed as having PTSD. They struggle to live their life to the fullest. They get lost in the tide of emotions and depression of the event. They need help to lead them into the future that they deserve.

At Avery’s House, we understand the importance of teen therapy for PTSD as a part of the healing process. We’re committed to helping each one of our teenage patients.

Do you or a teenager you love have a diagnosis of PTSD? Do you know a teen who needs help overcoming the hurdles put in life by this disorder? Are you ready to start today on the path of healing?

Our dedicated team of Avery’s House professionals is here for you. We’re willing and able to provide the best therapy treatment options for you or your loved one.

Contact us today, and we can create a therapy plan that meets your every need. Call 1-855-506-1906 or email us for more information at info@averyshouse.com.

Let’s work together to help your teen overcome the struggle with PTSD, starting now!

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