How to Recognize Trauma in a Teenage Girl

Recognizing trauma in an adolescent can be difficult. Many of the symptoms of trauma, also known as a post-traumatic stress disorder, are similar to typical behavior that teens exhibit. However, trauma is a serious disorder that has far-reaching effects that can carry on adolescent girls well into adulthood, affecting their confidence, their ability to have intimate relationships, and their overall motivation in life.

Roughly 4% of all adolescents will develop PTSD with the majority of that percentage being female. As a parent, friend, or teacher, recognizing the signs of trauma in order to help that girl get the treatment they need can have a drastic impact on their success navigating life as an adult.

Signs And Symptoms Of Trauma

Some symptoms of trauma are hard to distinguish from normal adolescence. These are behaviors such as irritability, rebellion, and sleeping too little or too much. However, trauma is a direct response to a traumatic situation, such as serious surgery, a car accident, death of a loved one, witnessing a violent event, or suffering from chronic physical, mental, and even sexual abuse.

Additionally, trauma can occur from less severe events also, such as social rejection, victimization at the hands of a bully, the grief of losing a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, and the divorce of parents.

Parents Must Be Able to Identify the Signs of Trauma

While serious, trauma and post-traumatic stress are disorders that are highly treatable. But For post-traumatic stress to be treated, it must first be noticed. Below is a list of the most common signs of trauma for parents of teenage girls to look out for. 

Trouble sleeping especially due to nightmares

Sleeping issues are a common side-effect of trauma. It is common for trauma victims to relive their experiences at night and in their dreams. Namely, in the form of reoccurring nightmares where the victim suffers the same dream repeatedly. 

Flashbacks where the traumatic event is re-experienced

Another way in which victims relive their traumatic experiences is through flashbacks. These experiences can occur at any time and may or may not be triggered by environmental or situational stimuli. 

Depression and irritability

Depression is perhaps the most common and serious side effect of trauma. Traumatized individuals who go untreated are at high risk of developing major depression and clinical anxiety. This can cause afflicted individuals to appear highly irritable at times. 

Plummeting grades

When it comes to a traumatized individual, things that once seemed important are quickly overshadowed by the enormity of their traumatic event. In the case of teens, important things such as grades or attending school, in general, are often the first to be negatively affected in a noticeable way. 

Suddenly dressing inappropriately and acting out

Teens who experience undiagnosed or untreated trauma often feel unheard. This feeling of others' indifference can often cause a traumatized teen to dress or act out in ways that make them feel as though they will be heard or noticed by others whom they feel don't notice them.  

Refusing to talk about what happened

Refusing to talk, or in effect, relive their past trauma is the most common side effect of experiencing a traumatic event. Typically, teens who refuse to talk about their trauma, do so, because they want to avoid reliving or even admitting the event in question happened.  This may include saying that they don’t remember the details of the traumatic event or downplaying the severity of the event. 

Alcohol or substance abuse

Like all severe mental health-related issues that go undiagnosed or untreated, post-traumatic stress can cause afflicted teens to turn to means of self-medicating. Teens who feel the need to self-medicate for untreated trauma commonly turn to substance-abusing and other forms of self-harming behaviors.

Getting Help

Trauma in teen girls is not something that just goes away. Without professional treatment, trauma can haunt adolescent girls well into adulthood. A therapeutic boarding school that recognizes trauma, understands how it can occur from a variety of situations ranging in severity, and knows how to appropriately treat it.

We've been around the block, and know a thing or two. We understand that some teen girls are more sensitive and/or susceptive to trauma and, as a means to self-medicate their internal pain, turn to unhealthy and destructive behaviors, such as self-harm or substance abuse.

Fortunately, we are equally qualified to treat self-destructive behaviors as we are at rehabilitating the emotional and mental issues that cause them.

For immediate assistance please call us today.