PTSD in Children and Teens

We talk about PTSD in adult quite frequently in this blog, but adults aren’t the only ones who can suffer. Children and teens can develop PTSD after a traumatic event too, but they might show different symptoms.

 

So how can you tell if your child has PTSD? There are various signs to look out for.

 

If your child is between 5 and 12 years old, you might notice them behaving differently. They might start reenacting the event through play. For example, if they witnessed a shooting, they might be drawn more to shooting games. They might also start avoiding certain things if they see a pattern of events. This because the child thinks that they can predict when another bad thing is about to happen, based on things that happened before the traumatic event.

 

If your child is between the age of 12 and 18, they might begin acting impulsively and aggressively. You might think this is typical teenage behavior, but don’t be fooled. The older they are, the more similar their symptoms will be to those of adults with PTSD, but don’t overlook their impulsivity and more aggressive behaviors.

 

If the family has gone through trauma, it’s always a good idea to get the entire family into therapy. If you know or even think your child has gone through some trauma, it’s always best to get them into therapy too, even if you’re unsure of what caused their odd behavior. It’s important to catch PTSD early on in childhood and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Unspoken Symptoms Of PTSD: Extreme Reactions to Memories

PTSD is usually caused by a very traumatic event in a person’s life, but sometimes it seems as though dealing with the PTSD afterward is worse than the actual event itself. One of the common side effects of PTSD is flashbacks. This is where the sufferer begins to remember the event vividly as if completely reliving the situation all over again. Even for those that don’t have PTSD, they know that those that do can suffer from flashbacks.

 

But sometimes, it’s not just flashbacks that they have to deal with. Those with PTSD can have extreme reactions to anything that reminds them of the terrible event, and these reactions include more than just the common flashbacks.

 

Extreme reactions can include but are not limited to fast heart rate, hyperventilating, nausea, tension, stress, vomiting, and sweating. That’s a lot for a person to have to deal with on a regular basis, and if not dealt with properly, these extreme reactions can also turn into intense flashbacks.

 

The best thing to do is to try to avoid things that you know are trigger points for you. You should also seek out therapy to learn healthy coping mechanisms and learn to eventually overcome your fears.

 

If you know someone with PTSD, try to learn their trigger points and make an effort to not bring them up around that person. If you find yourself in a situation where they begin showing extreme reactions, just stay calm and try to give them your full support.

Unspoken Symptoms of PTSD: Migraines

There are a lot of symptoms that come along with having PTSD. Some are fairly common and well talked about, such as flashbacks and anxiety. But there are some symptoms that you may not even realize are part of your PTSD. If you suffer from headaches regularly, and if those headaches seem to get so bad that you can no longer see straight and you feel the need to vomit, PTSD might be the culprit for it.

 

This is especially true for men. Although women are actually three times more likely to have either migraines or PTSD than men, men are more likely to have both at the same time. Basically, the chances of migraines being caused by PTSD are greater in men than in women.

 

PTSD is serious stuff, and it not only effects just what happens inside your head. It can be physically painful to relive your trauma over and over again. Your thoughts begin to take over and you can feel the panic rising. Your muscles tense up, your blood pressure rises, and your body releases all kinds of chemicals associated with fight or flight mode. Any one of these things can cause a headache on their own, but when you combine them all together, you get the perfect recipe for a serious migraine.

 

If you’re having headaches due to your PTSD, learn what your triggers are so you can avoid them in the future. Practice good self-care, and even consider taking some medication to help alleviate a headache when you feel one coming on.

Unspoken Symptoms of PTSD: Hypervigilance

You’ve heard about the grand list of PTSD symptoms, but some of them can be overlooked or misunderstood. Have you ever heard of hypervigilance? Having hypervigilance means that you are constantly on the alert, looking for danger and waiting for the next attack to hit at any moment. People that are hypervigilant usually have a hard time relaxing, especially in public. They feel the need to always watch their backs and have a plan of escape or defense wherever they go. Does this sound like you? If you have PTSD, you likely have hypervigilance too.

 

Hypervigilance is a natural bodily response for having been exposed to dangerous environments for a long period of time, but always being on the lookout can be pretty exhausting. Your body can become tense from unease, creating stiff and sore muscles. Your lack of focus on anything else can also interfere with work and relationships with people. The stress and anxiety of it all can leave you feeling ready to collapse at any moment.

 

So what can you do to get some relief from hypervigilance? There are a few options available. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one that can help you learn to control the way you respond to the world around you, while Exposure Therapy is a great way to conquer your fears. Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy is yet another great form of therapy. If none of this enough, you can also consider taking different kinds of medications. If you want a more natural approach, you can try mindful training to help you be able to “live in the moment.”

 

PTSD is a difficult battle, but not an impossible one. There are lots of options out there to help you fight the symptoms and eventually overcome PTSD for good.