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06-30 PTSD Awareness Month: Trauma affects brains of adolescent girls and boys differently

Posted in Mental Health, PTSD, Teens

PTSD Awareness Month: Trauma affects brains of adolescent girls and boys differently

Adolescence is marked by a sense of independence and is embedded with distressing experiences that can give rise to insecurity and trauma among the younger generation. And untreated traumatic expressions can temporarily disrupt adolescents’ abilities to function normally in their daily lives.

Trauma affects teens and adolescents differently from adults and prior studies have indicated how traumatized teenage girls are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to their male counterparts. To stress on what excessive levels of stress and trauma can do to those affected, the United States observes “PTSD Awareness Month” every year in June. Mental health advocates, community workers and social media groups raise awareness about PTSD and its effective available treatment. Most Americans do not know much about the disorder and, hence, it has become imperative to spread the word about the prevalence of the disease and the manner in which it affects people, especially youngsters.

Clinicians attribute the same to a part of the brain identified as “insula” that is physically different in teenage girls who show signs of the mental health disorder. The insula responsible for detecting signals from the body and resultant processing of emotions and actions seems to undergo rapid maturation in teenaged girls living with PTSD as opposed to boys suffering from the same condition.

After looking at the structural differences in the insula in both the genders during adolescence, it is now easy to understand how teenaged boys and girls react to similar situations differently. These observations cannot be ignored as the distinction between traumatic stress affecting the brains of teenage boys and girls who have undergone psychological trauma can help explain the differences in the nature and extent of trauma symptoms between the two sexes.

Identifying effects of trauma

Not all people exposed to trauma exhibit symptoms of PTSD. Traumatic feelings may result in feelings of fear or hopelessness. The traumatic incident could be singular or recurring over periods of weeks, months or even years. Though no two people manifest the same kind of reaction to trauma, most teenagers tend to show some common symptoms. They are:

  • feeling sad, angry, confused or scared
  • complaining of frequent headaches or churning stomachs
  • fearing nightmares coupled with tendencies of insomnia
  • getting into unnecessary fights or activities that one would normally avoid
  • inability to concentrate or focus on school activities
  • social isolation marked by a reluctance to communicate.

Teenagers with PTSD may suffer from problems like reliving the incident, avoiding places and people that remind them of the trauma, feeling edgy and tired, developing self-harm tendencies, taking unnecessary risks, lack of concentration, feeling extremely upset when reminded of the trauma, constant irritability and anxiousness apart from nervousness while performing certain activities.

Paying attention to PTSD

People living with PTSD must realize that too much of pain and anguish resulting from trauma may hamper physical and mental health of the patient. Expert advice is recommended so that those suffering from it may gain quick relief by seeking recovery in teen treatment centers. Counselors practicing in rehab centers for teens recommend necessary medication and therapies that help the patients get rid of the clutter accumulating in their minds.

Persistent trauma during childhood affects school-aged children and teenagers alike. According to experts, proper support and regular treatment can help adolescents suffering from PTSD overcome anxiety and pain, characteristic of the disorder. Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego provides treatments for mental illnesses like PTSD to adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years. The residential treatment centers for teenagers are equipped with state-of-the-art treatment methods, customized to meet each adolescent’s needs. For more information about teen residential treatment facilities in your vicinity, contact our 24/7 helpline or chat online.

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