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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as defined by the Mayo Clinic “is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” PTSD is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a diagnosable mental health condition and is listed under the new category called Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders.

PTSD can occur when a teen has experienced severe stress or anxiety after being exposed to a traumatic event. The Boston Children’s Hospital conducted a study that found sixty-one percent of young people (age 13 to 17) had been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, and nineteen percent had experienced three or more traumatic events in their lifetime. Commonly reported traumatic events that can lead to PTSD to include the following examples, provided by Teens Health from Nemours:

  • Fire
  • Physical abuse
  • Violent assaults 
  • Sexual abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Natural or man-made disasters
  • Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness
  • Witnessing another person goes through a traumatic event
  • Military combat
  • Rape

Facing teen trauma can be incredibly overwhelming for both the teenager as well as the teen’s loved ones. The symptoms that can manifest after exposure to a single traumatic event or repeated exposure to trauma will vary from teen to teen. PTSD symptoms can also change in intensity over time.

Treatment

There are many treatment options for an adolescent struggling with PTSD. A teenager with PTSD will likely require a customized treatment plan that may include a variety of treatment modalities. The main types of psychotherapy that are commonly used to treat PTSD in teens include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and talk therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a therapeutic method that combines behavioral therapy with talk therapy. This can be extremely helpful for the treatment of PTSD. In CBT teenagers will work closely with a therapist to essentially change their thinking patterns by developing effective coping skills. This will subsequently enable them to change their own thoughts surrounding the trauma, helping to reframe the experience or experiences in their own mind. Which in turn alleviates much of the negative thoughts, feelings, emotions that play into one’s PTSD. DBT is also frequently used to treat PTSD in teenagers. Dialectical behavior therapy uses mindfulness skills to help a young person focus on accepting their emotions, while also helping to adjust the unhealthy behaviors that arise from the emotions. Guidance from a qualified mental health provider can help provide a teen suffering from PTSD with the much-needed support in cultivating effective coping strategies and learning applicable skills to aid in the PTSD recovery process. 

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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