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4 Risks of Unresolved Childhood Trauma in Teenagers

teens talking about unresolved childhood trauma

Trauma affects people from all walks of life. The tricky thing about trauma is that everyone experiences it differently. Some may find one event traumatic, while others do not. This can make it especially difficult to diagnose, treat, and understand childhood trauma. Unresolved childhood trauma can lead to mental health disorders, substance use, and other difficulties later in life. A teen and adolescent trauma therapy program can help young adults and their families navigate trauma healing.

If your teen shows signs of unprocessed trauma, Imagine Seattle can help. Contact our team today to learn about our teen and adolescent trauma therapy programs for ages twelve to seventeen in Seattle, WA. Reach us online or at 888.346.0473 to learn how trauma therapy can help your child thrive.

4 Risks of Unresolved Childhood Trauma in Teenagers

1. Self-Medication

Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is one of the most significant risks of untreated trauma in adolescents. Many young people find emotional and psychological relief from drinking or drug use. However, when these substances leave the bloodstream, trauma symptoms return. This cycle often leads to a substance use disorder or process addiction.

2. Mood Disorders

Those with unprocessed childhood trauma are at a higher risk for mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Their nervous systems are in a constant or continuous state of hyperarousal, meaning their body rarely reaches a state of calm. This can trigger or worsen mood disorders and overall mental health.

3. Difficulty Achieving Goals

Unprocessed childhood trauma can make it more difficult for your child to connect with others, succeed in school, and pave their own way into adulthood. Constant fear and avoidance can keep many young adults from pursuing their passions and the outside world.

4. Risky Behaviors

Teens who experienced childhood trauma often engage in risky behaviors, such as promiscuity and dangerous physical stunts. These teen behaviors are usually attention-seeking to impress peers. Unfortunately, risky behaviors come with serious consequences for teens.

What Causes Childhood Trauma?

Trauma is characterized by a physical, emotional, and psychological response to a life-threatening event. During a traumatic event, the body releases cortisol, adrenaline, and other chemicals to help it fight or flee a dangerous situation. Sometimes the body processes these chemicals at the moment. Other times, it stores them as traumatic memories. These “trapped” memories are easily reactivated and cause symptoms of PTSD, mood disorders, and other problems in young adults’ lives.

Many people struggle to identify traumatic memories. Children, especially, may not remember a traumatic event. Parents may also struggle to identify a traumatic event in their child’s life. The brain often blocks traumatic memories, especially when they occur in childhood. While someone may not remember an event, they usually have a sense they experience the world differently than their friends. Childhood trauma a teen cannot remember may have an even greater impact on their well-being. A trauma therapist can help teens uncover, process, and heal childhood trauma.

Risks of Unresolved Childhood Trauma and Addiction in Young Adults

Childhood trauma can cause a range of symptoms and reactionary behavior throughout adulthood.

Common symptoms that result from childhood trauma include:

  • Often feeling on edge
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Not feeling safe
  • Avoiding people, places, thoughts, or activities
  • Strange responses to other’s actions
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Reactivity
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Constant hyperarousal

Trauma Therapy at Imagine Seattle

If your teen shows signs of unresolved trauma, know they are not alone. Advances in scientific understanding and treatment of trauma make treatment accessible. If your teen needs help, call Imagine Seattle today. Our outpatient programs provide young adults ages twelve to seventeen with comprehensive mental health treatment in beautiful Seattle, WA.

With programs in trauma-informed care, our outpatient treatment plans help adolescents and their loved ones navigate mood disorders, addiction, and academics. With convenient, flexible programs, medication management, and a range of therapy programs, let Imagine Seattle help your family thrive.

Begin Teen Trauma Therapy at Imagine Seattle Today

At Imagine Seattle, our team recognizes that unresolved traumas from childhood affect people throughout their lives and might result in drug or alcohol self-medication. If you’re interested in learning more about unresolved trauma and addiction with your teen, contact our Imagine Seattle team online or at 888.346.0473.