Trauma vs. PTSD
Traumatic events can happen to anyone at any time. Car accidents, natural disasters, and acts of violence are just some of the forms of trauma that can lead to the onset of PTSD. When trauma occurs, it can have a lasting impact on an individual’s mental and physical health. In some cases, trauma can even lead to the development of PTSD.
Understanding trauma vs. PTSD can help you spot warning signs, confront your concerns, and work through mental health issues in a healthier way. For teens especially, knowing how to prevent trauma from becoming PTSD is a way to prevent lasting issues that could have a negative impact on their future.
Trauma vs. PTSD: Understanding the Connection
Trauma is a response to a deeply disturbing event that causes significant emotional distress. PTSD, on the other hand, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to trauma. Not everyone who experiences trauma will go on to develop PTSD, but for some people, the impact of the trauma can be long-lasting.
PTSD can develop after a one-time event or after exposure to trauma on a repeated basis. For example, someone who experiences a car accident may develop PTSD, as may someone who is the victim of ongoing domestic violence. PTSD due to childhood trauma can also develop many years later, particularly if the trauma is not resolved.
How to Prevent Trauma from Becoming PTSD
Armed with this knowledge of trauma vs. PTSD, can trauma be prevented from becoming PTSD? In some cases, yes. There are things that you can do in the immediate aftermath of trauma that can help to prevent the development of PTSD.
If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible. This can be in the form of therapy, medication, or both. Getting help immediately after trauma can help to prevent the development of PTSD.
Other coping skills and strategies that can help to prevent trauma from becoming PTSD include:
- Talking to a trusted friend or family member about what happened
- Keeping a journal
- Learning about trauma vs. PTSD
- Staying active and engaged in activities that bring joy
- Practicing a daily self-care routine
- Getting regular exercise
- Connecting with others who have been through similar experiences
If you’re not sure whether your trauma is still affecting your daily life or whether it’s developing into PTSD, keep an eye out for some of these symptoms:
- Recurring memories or dreams of the event(s)
- Emotional distress or severe reactions to something that reminds you of the event
- Avoidant activities that are meant to prevent you from processing the event
- Memory problems related to the event
- Self-destructive behavior, like distancing yourself from loved ones or taking risks
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Being easily startled, frightened, or always staying guarded
Treatment for PTSD
Whether your teen is experiencing PTSD due to childhood trauma or trauma that happened more recently, there are treatments that can help. Support from therapists and counselors who understand trauma vs. PTSD can be incredibly helpful. Often, a combination of medication and therapy is most successful in treating PTSD.
Approaches like trauma-informed cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and even holistic therapeutic modalities like yoga and equine therapy can all help teens develop the skills they need to cope with trauma.
Reach Out to Ascend
Ascend has several inpatient and outpatient facilities dedicated to trauma that can help your teen heal in a safe and supportive environment. Knowing how to prevent trauma from becoming PTSD starts with a call to Ascend. Our admissions team is here to answer your questions about topics like trauma vs. PTSD, the best approaches to treatment, and whether Ascend is the right fit for you.