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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A Rise In Homelessness

The capital of North Carolina has been booming for a long time, and it still continues to grow. But as more and more people and businesses settle here, the cost of living goes up. And that means the number of homeless people is increasing too. Even the employed struggle to keep a roof over their heads as low-income wages are beginning to decrease while the cost for rent increases.

 

Because of this, homelessness is becoming a real problem in Raleigh, North Carolina. During the 2016-17 school year, 3,465 students were found to be homeless, which is 2,940 more kids than just the year before. This is a scary number to look at. What could this mean for the upcoming generation?

 

Being homeless is serious stuff. It means bouncing around from place to place, creating never-ending instability. They are also more likely to end up in more dangerous and unhealthy situations, such as sleeping in the cold, standing on the side of the road, and taking help from strangers. All of this is a perfect recipe for high stress and mental health issues as a result. Worrying about their education is difficult enough for children and teens, but fighting to survive is a whole other level. It could cause issues that they might have to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

 

We all know what it’s like to have to face stressful situations in day to day life, but homelessness, especially in children and teens, is another level that could have a deeply negative effect on the mental health of the upcoming generation.

Could Substance Abuse be Causing PTSD?

It is a well known fact that those that suffer from PTSD are at a much higher risk for falling into substance abuse. Many people with PTSD often find themselves going for the bottle or something else harmful to help quickly find relief from their pain. But could early substance abuse actually lead to PTSD?

 

It turns out that there is a link between teens and young adults that abuse substances and later develop PTSD. So why is this?

 

The brains of teens and young adults are still developing, which is why alcohol and other substances are so dangerous for them. In the moment, downing a few shots might seem like a quick and easy solution for a teenager that is under a lot of stress. This is because they lack the ability to make rational and well-informed decisions, and instead act in the moment based on what seems the most rewarding.

 

But turning to unhealthy solutions can have a lot of consequences later on down the road. Alcohol and other drugs can have a negative effect on a brain that is still developing. It can inhibit growth, preventing the young person from ever being able to learn how to make better decisions or cope with things in a healthy way.

 

Facing the stresses of everyday life is enough for one person to have to deal with. But it’s even harder when you don’t have the mental capabilities to figure out how exactly you should deal with them. For someone who abused substances as a teen or young adult, it’s even harder because their brains were never able to develop and grow like they were supposed to. Smaller stresses are much bigger for these people, making it easier for them to develop life-altering PTSD.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a stressful situation, know that it does get better, and substance abuse is NOT the way to go. This is especially true for teens and young adults who still have developing brains. Abusing alcohol and drugs will only make things worse. It won’t make the stressful situation go away, and it will leave lasting effects on not only your physical body but also your mind. Clear thinking is essential for maintaining good mental health, and you just can’t do that if your head is fogged by toxic substances. The more you use these substances, the more likely it is that they will leave permanent effects on your mind and body.

 

Long lasting effects of alcohol aren’t the only thing to worry about though. When people are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they are more likely to do things they will regret, or even put themselves in danger. Finding themselves in a bad situation because they decided to drink irresponsibly can be enough in itself to cause PTSD in someone.

 

Instead, consider practicing some healthier coping mechanisms, and maybe even start seeing a therapist. It could help you get through things, and even prevent you from developing PTSD later on down the road.