How Many Teens Have PTSD?

 In Mental Health

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe condition caused by a traumatic incident at some point in a person’s life. It leads to flashbacks, nightmares, and other anxiety symptoms. It can significantly reduce the quality of life. 

It is sad to think that someone as young as a teenager would have PTSD, yet many adolescents suffer from the condition. If not treated, PTSD can lead to substance abuse issues and other problems that can negatively affect the teen’s trajectory later in life. This article will answer the question of how many teens have PTSD, and discuss what you can do to get your child help.



PTSD is a mental health disorder that occurs in people that have experienced a traumatic incident at some point in their lives. Events that may trigger PTSD include:

  • War
  • Emotional and physical abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Other types of assault
  • A natural disaster
  • A car accident
  • Witnessing or being involved in an act of violence

Common symptoms of PTSD in teens include: 

  • Intrusive thoughts that take you back to the event, such as sudden memories, nightmares, and flashbacks
  • Avoidance of stimulus that reminds you of the event, such as a person, place, activity, or object that may trigger unpleasant memories
  • Changes in mood and cognition, for example, people may blame themselves or others for the event; they may also have a feeling of fear and horror, a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed; they may also exhibit anti-social behavior
  • Reactive activities such as being irritable or behaving recklessly or destructively or exhibiting excessive paranoia, or having problems sleeping and concentrating

Trauma does not always lead to PTSD. However, most will feel the effects of trauma and will exhibit PTSD-like symptoms. Whether the person has PTSD depends on:

  • How severe or harmful the trauma was
  • The type of support the person gets
  • Whether they have other types of stress in their lives
  • If they have previously experienced a trauma
  • If they have other mental conditions such as depression and anxiety or if stress and anxiety run in their family
  • How long does the trauma last

PTSD doesn’t go away on its own and typically takes specialized care. 



Statistics show that adolescents aged 13-18 have a 5% lifetime prevalence of PTSD while 1.5% have a severe impairment. PTSD affects females more than males, with females at 8% and males at 2.3%. 



It may surprise people that PTSD can occur in someone as young as a teenager, but several events can trigger it. These include: 

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • School or neighborhood violence
  • Car accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Arrests and evictions
  • Sudden loss of a parent or someone else close to them
  • Excessive bullying and hateful acts
  • Witnessing an act of violence



PTSD in adolescents is not easy to deal with, but it can be managed, and in some cases, it can go away completely. It requires a combination of treatments such as: 

  • Medications: Certain medications may help keep anxiety and depression under control
  • Therapy: Therapies commonly used to treat PTSD include cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure activities, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). The goal is to allow the person to relive the event in a safe environment so they no longer associate it with irrational fear. 

There are many facilities that help with PTSD, but it can be difficult to find the one that’s right for your teen. It would be best to consider the environment, the treatments offered, the quality of the staff, and more. You can spend quite some time trying to find the perfect facility, or you can save yourself trouble by contacting the Adolescent Wellness Academy first. 

The Adolescent Wellness Academy, a teen treatment center in Davie, FL, offers a staff that understands how the teen brain works. We communicate in a manner that’s relatable and reaches teens on their level. We offer after-school treatment programs that don’t take teens away from their friends and studies. We even provide transportation for teens seeking treatment. 

Don’t let PTSD interfere with your child’s ability to enjoy life. Reach out to AWA for the teen PTSD treatment you require. It will be the best decision you ever make for your family.

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