When a teen goes through a traumatic experience, the impacts can often be seen for a long time. Traumas can ingrain themselves inside the teen, and live there for a long time. This trauma may then impact how the teen is living their life – whether it be their mood, their physical health, or their mental health. If a teenager you know has been through a traumatic experience, there are some signs that you can look for that will hint at the problem remaining unresolved. By noticing these signs you can better assist the teen, and lead them towards the help that they need.
Responding To Triggers
One sure sign that a teen is still dealing with the effects of a trauma is their reaction to triggers. A trigger can be anything – a sight, a sound, a smell – that was present at the time of the trauma. Experiencing this sight/sound/smell again brings their mind back to the moment of the trauma, and all of the feelings associated with it come rising back up to the surface. If you notice the teenager is being triggered by certain smells, sounds or sights, then there is a good chance this sensation is associated with a traumatic experience in their minds.
Difficulty At School
Another sign of teen trauma is if they are suddenly doing poorly in school. If the teen once had high marks, and now their school work is suffering, this is usually a sign that something is not right. Of course, most students at some point will have difficult with a subject or two throughout their academic careers, but if you begin to notice a pattern, or it is taking place in more than one subject, you should take a closer look to see if something changed them. It is also a good idea to speak with their teachers to see if they have noticed a drop in performance or a change of behavior in class.
The inability to fall asleep at night, or to stay asleep, is a common sign of a traumatic experience. While you may not notice if your teen is staying up into the late hours of the night, you should be able to see if they are experiencing a lack of sleep. Teens who are consistently tired throughout the day, or who tend to sleep in all day on the weekends, might be having trouble falling asleep at night. As with their performance in school, some change in a sleep schedule is common among teens. They tend to stay up later, and don’t always go to bed when they should. While over sleeping or being tired during the day are not always signs of a trauma, they can at least be a warning sign to be on the lookout for others.
Many traumatic experiences will cause a person to experience anxiety afterward. Anxiety is when your mind tells your body that you are in physical danger, even though you are not. While many people experience at least a small amount of anxiety in everyday situations – such as public speaking, social settings, or during athletics – if it gets to the point that it is impacting the quality of life, then something should be done. Anxiety that is left untreated can have a snowball effect, and grow worse as time goes on.
Lastly, depression is another common symptom for those who have gone through a trauma. Depression has many of the same symptoms listed above – trouble sleeping, sleeping too much, anxiety, trouble in school, a lack of interest in hobbies, and moodiness. A teen suffering from depression may outwardly act like everything is fine, meaning extra attention must be paid to spot warning signs. Here is a complete list of things to look for in someone you suspect may have depression.
What To Do
If you notice any of the above warning signs in a teen, it is a good idea to try and talk with them. If the teen will not talk with you, try to refer them to a professional counselor who will be able to work through the trauma with them. The longer the conditions go untreated, the harder they will be to fix in the future. Be on the lookout for any of the signs mentioned above, and if you suspect a teen is having trouble because of a traumatic event, try to get them the assistance they need.