Teens who struggle with trauma disorders can have difficulty succeeding in school, forming healthy relationships, and developing into independent, mature adults. However, specialized treatment programs can help teens who have experienced traumatic events heal.
Understanding what trauma triggers are can help you support your teen as they work through the impact of past trauma and begin their journey to recovery. Learn more about what triggers trauma memories in teens and what to do when trauma stress is triggered.
What Are Trauma Memory Triggers?
Trauma can involve any experience that threatens a person’s physical or emotional well-being. Teenagers might experience traumatic events such as bullying in school, violence at home or in their community, or issues relating to substance abuse. Some teens tend to engage in dangerous behaviors that put them at a higher risk of experiencing a traumatic event.
If your teen is struggling with a trauma disorder, you might notice symptoms, including mood swings, an inability to process emotions, or a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed. You might also see there are times when your teen suddenly dissociates or breaks down for seemingly no reason. These responses may be the result of a trauma trigger.
What Can Trigger a Trauma-Related Response?
What triggers trauma memories in teens? There are a variety of external and internal things that could bring up memories of past trauma. Common trauma triggers could include:
- Seeing photos or videos of the traumatic event
- Hearing a song that they associate with the event
- Running into a person who was part of the experience
- Having a dream related to the traumatic event
- Going to the place where the event occurred
What triggers trauma memories in teens could be from this list or anything else that reminds them of the event. When your teen encounters a trauma trigger, they might experience a flashback to the event, making them feel as though they are in danger — even if they are safe and secure. Reliving their trauma is dangerous for teens, leading to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
Understanding what to do when trauma memories are triggered can help you provide the best possible support to your teen as they work on healing.
What to Do When Trauma Memories Triggered?
While your teen may not share a traumatic experience with you, you might recognize symptoms of trauma that hint that your teen needs help. Once you know what triggers trauma memories in your teen, you can create a plan of action to help in those situations.
Identify what their trauma memory triggers are. If going to a particular place or seeing a specific person causes your teen to experience flashbacks, panic attacks, or nightmares, try to avoid those places or people as much as possible. It’s not always possible to avoid every single trigger, like when they re-experience the event in a dream, but do your best to be on their side.
Help your teen understand what is happening to them when they encounter a trigger. If they open up to you, talk to them about what their trauma memory triggers are. Once they’re aware of the potential effect of these triggers, they might feel more in control.
Teach your teen some coping methods and techniques to guide them through a stressful moment. Some of these are useful over the long-term, while others are meant to help your child in the moment.
- Sports or Hobbies
- Deep Breathing Exercises
- Focusing on the Five Senses
Finding a therapist is one of the best ways you can help your teen overcome trauma. In therapy, your teen can work with an experienced clinician to better understand what their trauma memory triggers are and how these triggers may impact them as they work through negative emotions. Some teens require more comprehensive residential care, while others do well with outpatient care.
Trauma at Ascend Healthcare
At Ascend, we offer you years of experience in trauma treatment, as well as other conditions that arise from their triggers. Our safe, supportive environment helps put teens at ease, and our treatment plans offer guidance throughout your family’s journey to recovery.