Approximately 4 million children are exposed to trauma every year. Due to such traumatic experiences, these children are susceptible to psychological disorders and serious emotional turmoil, and may be in need of mental health treatment.If left untreated, adolescent and childhood trauma can create feelings of loss of safety, can be overwhelming, and can impair functioning, sometimes to the point of psychological disorder.
For most people, the word “trauma” brings to mind at least two types of injuries. In one sense, there is medical trauma, which is generally defined to be a sudden physical hurt to an organism that requires immediate treatment. The other type of trauma this society understands is psychological trauma. We are just as familiar with the idea of being “traumatized” by car accidents, by bullies, or by hurtful relationships. Those are forms of trauma, certainly, especially if our personal safety is compromised in any way. Another type of trauma falls into the second category of psychological trauma and unfortunately is only too common. This includes physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse of minors. So often we hear of infants, children, and adolescents hurt by their caregivers, parents, or guardians. The long-range effects of the trauma to the minor are complex and sometimes difficult to diagnose and treat.
Trauma is increasingly being recognized as a prevalent issue among many children. The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder estimates that 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys have experienced at least one traumatic event. Of these, it is estimated that between 3% and 15% of females and 1% to 6% of males meet the full criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Symptoms of Adolescent Trauma
A child can react in a number of different ways as a result of trauma. The following are some examples:
- Anxiety, terror
- Withdrawn from others
- Constantly alert
- Re-enactment of situation with various objects
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor self-image
- Guilty feelings
- Shows signs of obsessive or compulsive behaviors
- Panic attacks
- Recurrent nightmares, flashbacks
- Avoidance of situations similar to the traumatic event
- Inability to give or receive proper love and affection
Effects of Adolescent Trauma
The effects of childhood trauma vary greatly, depending on the type and severity of the traumatic experience. Examples of these effects include:
- Severe anxiety
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Drug Abuse
- Difficulty learning, struggling in school
- Brain alterations
- Eating disorders
- Extreme anger and hostility
When to seek Adolescent Trauma Counseling
If you believe, or those around you believe, that your symptoms may be impairing your life in troubling ways, then it may be time to seek help. There are treatments available to assist you in managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.