Parenting Tips for Teens with PTSD
Teenagers who have been exposed to traumatizing events are not immune to the effects of these events, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is no exception. PTSD is something that, even though it may have been years since the trauma initially occurred, is carried forward by the individual and can result in a wide array of social, psychological, and even physiological difficulties. Nobody should have to suffer in silence, and though PSTD may at times be overwhelmingly difficult to cope with, there are multiple solutions available for those affected and their families. Here are seven ways a parent can help their teenager with PTSD.
1. Research the causes and effects of PTSD as thoroughly as possible
PTSD is defined as a “psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events.” The best way a parent can help their teenager with PTSD—or any psychological issue for that matter—is to gather as much information as they can about the issue and try to apply that information in their day-to-day life. Once a parent begins to better understand the signs, symptoms, and possible causes of PTSD, they can begin the process of finding objective solutions.
2. Learn how to recognize when a PTSD episode may be occurring
One of the characteristics of PTSD is that future events can trigger flashbacks in which the victim begins to feel as if they are experiencing the initial event all over again. This can be very frightening, if not terrifying, for the victim, and when such an episode begins to occur, it can be very helpful for the people around them to know what is going on, what to expect, and what they can do to help.
3. Be Patient
During a PTSD Flashback—depending on the nature of the specific flashback—the victim may literally believe that their life is being directly threatened, and this can result in defensive or even violent behavior towards loved ones. During an episode, giving up or letting go can seem like a possible option, but though it is not easy being a parent of a teenager with PTSD, being a teenager with PTSD is even more of a struggle, and having the patience to realize the struggle they are going through can ultimately be what helps them make it through it.
4. Let them know that they are not alone
Studies have shown that up to 15% of girls and 6% of boys will experience some sort of PTSD in their lifetime, yet, from the perspective of the victims themselves, they can often feel incredibly alienated from their friends and family. PTSD is not a condition that is easy to handle without the support of the people around them, and little reminders throughout the day that someone is there for them and caring for them can help a great deal.
5. Understand their treatment options
There are a wide variety of possible treatment options for teenagers with PTSD, and the option that works best depends largely on the teenager, the trauma, and their personal objectives. It could never hurt to be informed on the possibilities an individual may have, but it could certainly hurt to stop exploring new possibilities.
6. Avoid people, places, and things that may trigger an episode
Many PTSD episodes are triggered by certain events, images, sights, and sounds that remind the victim of the original trauma they experienced. By understanding what might trigger an episode, parents can better prevent them by learning the kinds of stimuli and situations that need to be avoided.
7. Offer them unconditional love and support
Ultimately, the best thing a parent can do for their teenager is to love and support them unconditionally. Such a noble goal may often be easier said than done, certainly, but it is something that ought to be strived for, nevertheless. Providing a teenager with a place they can feel secure in is essential to their development and well-being, and if they have had a traumatic experience, they may require extra care.
More information on PTSD
Polaris Teen Center is a residential treatment facility for teens and adolescents suffering from severe mental health disorders. Our highly accredited facility is fully licensed and certified in Trauma Informed Care and is a part of the Behavioral Health Association of Providers (formerly AATA).