What Are the Signs of Trauma in Teens?

 In Mental Health

Many, if not all, teenagers experience traumatic events at some point in their lives. Most teens will struggle, address, and overcome the feelings and emotions associated with these events through family support and the use of healthy coping skills. However, some teenagers struggle to process these events and their impact on their lives. When these feelings and emotions are not addressed, these teens will develop mental health issues that impact their lives well into adulthood.

If your son or daughter is struggling with trauma, this article outlines the signs of trauma in teens, teen trauma statistics, and the types of trauma teens experience. If you are looking for teen trauma treatment, call Adolescent Wellness Academy toll-free today. Our South Florida adolescent treatment facility offers evidence-based programs and support for those teens suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse.


In a discussion concerning the signs of trauma in teens, we need to look at how prevalent traumatic events are present in a teenager’s life. The percentage of teens who have experienced traumatic events in their lifetime is shocking. In a study published in Psychological Trauma, 62 percent of teens aged 13-17 have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Also, 19 percent have been exposed to three or more traumatic events.

Additional information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma. Of those children and teens who have had trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. Depending on the type of trauma experienced, these rates are much higher. 


There is a wide range of traumatic events that adolescents are exposed to in their daily lives. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network outlines the following types of events:

  • Bullying—the deliberate action of someone who inflicts emotional, physical, or psychological harm on another
  • Community Violence-exposure to intentional acts of violence committed in public areas by people not intimately related to the victim or victims
  • Disasters-includes hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, earthquakes, and other extreme weather events
  • Abuse—includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect
  • Terrorism and Violence—includes school shootings and other attacks
  • Grief—experiencing the loss of a parent, friend, relative, or pet


As a parent, being aware of the signs of trauma in teens is crucial in getting them professional help as soon as possible. The following are common teen trauma symptoms:

  • Repetitive thoughts of the event
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Recurrent flashbacks
  • Avoiding people and places that may trigger symptoms
  • Irritable behavior and angry outbursts
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Being hyperaware of surroundings

Additional signs of trauma in teenagers include problems concentrating and sleeping, low self-esteem, and intense feelings of shame or guilt. You also need to be aware of signs of trauma in teens, including extended periods of isolation, depression, and emotional numbing. If you see any of these symptoms in your son or daughter, you must immediately find help.


Finding a teen trauma rehab for your child is a top priority if they are struggling to deal with their emotions. However, you must take great care in finding the right rehab for their needs. The rehab you choose must have evidence-based treatment programs and experienced staff with a proven track record of success in working with teens from all walks of life. The rehab you choose must also feature dual diagnosis treatment options if your teen is also dealing with a substance abuse issue, trauma, or other mental health problems.

Adolescent Wellness Academy is Southern Florida’s premier teen and adolescent treatment center. Our clinical program is aimed at helping teens with emotional and behavioral difficulties. We offer intensive outpatient and afterschool programs that are tailored to meet your teen’s specific needs. Call Adolescent Wellness Academy toll-free today and help your teen move past trauma and find happiness.

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