Treatment for PTSD in Young Adults and Teens

Teenagers tend to experience events and emotions much more intensely than adults do. Instances that would seem trivial to an adult can ve exponentially traumatic for adolescents. Stress and anxiety are likely to be triggered by any form of traumatic experience, but the symptoms have to reach extremely severe levels for a PTSD diagnosis.

Bearing this in mind, the symptoms of PTSD can be very subjective, as people can all react differently to the same situation. Ridge RTC offers a unique and innovative approach to treating PTSD and its related symptoms within your teen or adolescent.

How We Treat PTSD in Young Adults at Ridge RTC

Ridge RTC is a short-term RTC specialized in treating teens and young adults. Therapy, structure, supervision, and minimized distractions focused on creating a nurturing and caring environment are the order of the day at Ridge RTC. Our 350-acre campus located in southeastern New Hampshire is the perfect, unique place for those teenagers or young adults who need treatment and support outside of the norm.

The focus of our residential treatment center for teens and young adults is not only on your child’s recovery but on their future success as well. Academics and tutoring are available for those who require it. We also boast a trained psychiatrist who is on-site and ready to talk 5 days a week, as well as an experienced RN (registered nurse) who is well-versed in teenage care.

Our unique and innovative approach here at Ridge RTC promotes healthy living which includes physical activities, balanced diets, community contributions, and exposure to nature. Outdoor activities are an essential part of the recovery program here, and they include yoga sessions, hiking, biking, music, arts, and much more.


What is PTSD?

Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event brings about a severe anxiety disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD can be both emotionally and physically destructive, and depending on the circumstances could advance to become life-threatening. This disorder affects a person’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. A few examples of events that could create PTSD in a person are historical trauma, domestic violence, bullying, tragic accidents, and natural disasters.

In the past, PTSD moved under the cloak of several names, such as “combat fatigue” during World War II or “shell shock” during World War I. This mental health illness does not affect only combat veterans, however. Anyone and everyone, no matter their ethnicity, nationality, culture or age can experience PTSD. Around 3.5% of adults in the United States are affected by PTSD every year. PTSD occurrence in teenagers (13-18 years old) is 8%.

PTSD causes intense feelings and unsettling thoughts to rise in a person long after the traumatic event happened. Flashbacks, deep sadness, nightmares, fear, and intense anger are common side effects of this disorder. People experiencing PTSD typically avoid locations, situations, and even people that remind them of the event. Such people can have adverse reactions to accidental touches or loud, sudden noises.

Why Your Teenager May Be Dealing With PTSD

The world has gone insane. Natural disasters are occurring with increased frequency, school shootings happen so regularly that they’re rarely reported on the front page, and sexual assault is as common as the flu. Bullying has taken flight and lives along the highways of the internet and on social media. The list of instances that could trigger PTSD within your child is numerous.

Such violent and distressing events can happen anywhere at any time, and your child experiencing or witnessing them could cause a severe anxiety reaction that develops into post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD can also further develop into (or be experienced alongside) other mental health issues such as depression.

Some common traumatic events that can develop into the disorder include: witnessing a death, surviving a school shooting, experiencing a life-threatening situation, sexual and/ or physical assault, and experiencing a natural disaster.

What Are the Different Types Of PTSD?

The four main classes of PTSD that young adults may develop are:

Acute Stress Disorder. At times deemed a forerunner to PTSD, this is distinguished by symptoms of intense stress and emotional recollection lasting less than a month.

Acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is where PTSD symptoms occur for less than three months.

Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is where a person experiences PTSD symptoms for longer than three months. “Chronic” used in this instance means that the symptoms are long-lasting.

Delayed-Onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is where the symptoms of PTSD do not show up in a person until a long time has passed, usually several years, and the symptoms usually last for longer than six months.

What Are the Symptoms Of PTSD?

The symptoms of PTSD usually appear within a month after the triggering event, but sometimes years pass before symptoms begin to show. PTSD symptoms can wreak havoc on your ability to properly function, and cause considerable problems with relationships, social situations, and work settings.

PTSD symptoms can fall under four main categories: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms vary with each person, and the type and intensity depend on the root cause.

Common symptoms of PTSD in teenagers can include:

  • Recurring, troubling, unwanted memories of the horrific event
  • Flashbacks (reliving the event over and over, as if for the first time)
  • Nightmares or troublesome dreams about the event
  • Physical reactions or extreme emotional despair to stimuli related to the event
  • Attempts to thwart talking about or thinking about the terrible event
  • Avoiding people, activities, or situations that dredge up memories of the event
  • Cynical thoughts about the world, other people, or yourself
  • Pessimism about the future
  • Memory issues (black spots regarding important points of the traumatic event)
  • Trouble maintaining healthy, personal relationships
  • Detachment toward family and friends
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Trouble experiencing positive emotions
  • Emotional numbness
  • Readily being frightened or startled
  • Constantly on edge for danger
  • Overdrinking, extremely fast driving, or other self-destructive behaviors
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Aggressive outbursts, irritability, or random anger spasms
  • Using play to reenact certain aspects of the traumatic event
  • Terrifying dreams that may or may not be focused on the traumatic event

What Are the Causes of PTSD in Adolescents?

Trauma is the definitive cause of PTSD in teenagers and young adults. Genetics also plays a role, meaning that teens and adolescents with family histories consisting of anxiety, PTSD, and other mental issues are more likely to develop PTSD.

Extreme stress is the underlying cause of every PTSD case. Stress, however, is subjective and mostly takes the form of sexual assault or physical violence. In adolescents, developmental trauma is also a catalyst for PTSD. child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse early in a child’s life are examples of repeated or developmental trauma.

What Are the Treatment Options for Teen and Adolescent PTSD?

Adolescents and teenagers often respond to treatment differently, and this can make treating PTSD difficult. A therapist’s immediate goal is to figure out the best way to tackle a teen’s PTSD and work with them to alleviate its symptoms. Medication is not usually recommended for this type of treatment, though it does have its uses. Most treatment options will have psychotherapy at its core.

Some therapeutic methods that are used to treat PTSD in teens are:

Trauma therapy is a form of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that concentrates on the emotional and mental effects of PTSD. An incremental, steady approach is used to address the traumatizing event suffered by the teen. Trauma therapy enables a person to form healthy coping skills to respond to the event and its triggers.

A good therapist, such as those at Ridge RTC, can assist a patient to recognize their particular triggers and use positive emotions to replace their fear. Such coping skills can help your adolescent’s daily functioning improve.

This form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) handles traumatic experiences and their mental and emotional consequences. Adults are often invited to participate in these sessions, as long as they were not responsible for or enablers of the abuse or trauma in the child’s life. Family therapy principles are incorporated here, and very close relationships can develop between a parent and child.

Experience shows that surrounding a teen suffering from PTSD with a collective of peers that understand their experiences firsthand can be especially beneficial in their treatment. Group therapy also provides a safe space for an adolescent to directly confront the horrifying event and residual symptoms.

Any medication prescribed during an adolescent’s PTSD treatment is used for neutralizing symptoms of anxiety and depression in teens rather than for curing the PTSD itself. This medication used in our teen depression rehab, can reduce the chances of teen suicidal ideation or other self-harming behaviors.


How the Ridge Helps Your Teen Deal With PTSD

At Ridge RTC, we offer an assortment of therapies custom tailored for your young adult that provide actual healing by addressing the psychological effects of the trauma they have faced.

Our residential program aims to treat PTSD, PTSD related symptoms and provide care, and beyond recovery. Contact our well-informed admissions team today to schedule a visit, consult with a therapist, or make plans for admission.

You are one step closer to helping your adolescent recover from PTSD and live a healthy life.

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