Trauma as an adolescent or teen girl can have many different effects. The majority of children who experience a traumatic event show short-term negative effects, while a sizeable percentage experience long-term psychological pain, according to the American Psychological Association. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other psychiatric conditions can result from a child’s trauma. This psychological discomfort has the potential to transform into something severe and life-threatening if left untreated.
Teen girls specifically may experience complex trauma in a variety of ways. Here are a few typical impacts:
Teen girls who have had profound trauma frequently struggle to recognize, express, and control their emotions. They may also have a restricted vocabulary for emotional states. They frequently internalize and/or externalize stress reactions, which can lead to severe melancholy, anxiety, or rage.
The inability to control one’s emotions is widespread and can even happen when there are no relationships. Many teen girls are quickly overwhelmed because they have never learned how to control their emotions once they become upset. For instance, they could get so angry at school that even the smallest tasks are difficult. Teen girls who have been exposed to early, severe traumatic events are also more likely to develop constant and widespread fear. Additionally, they are more susceptible to developing depression.
A teen girl who has had multiple complicated traumas is more prone to be readily “set off” and to react with great intensity to negative life events than her peer that did not experience trauma. She may have trouble controlling her emotions, lack the ability to calm herself down, and display impulse control issues, or lacks the capacity to consider the effects of her actions before taking them.
Teen girls who have had several traumas may exhibit behavior that appears severe, oppositional, unpredictable, and volatile. In response to perceived blame or attack, a teen girl who feels helpless may react defensively and aggressively, or alternatively, they may occasionally be overcontrolled, stiff, and unusually cooperative with adults.
Relations and Attachment
It is difficult to overstate the value of a child having a close bond with a caregiver. Children develop their ability to trust others, control their emotions, and engage with others through their relationships with significant attachment figures. They also learn to perceive the world as safe or unsafe and to appreciate who they are as unique individuals. Teen girls who experience trauma might learn that they cannot rely on others to aid them when those interactions are unstable or unpredictable.
Physical Fitness: Body and Mind
The biochemistry of the body changes from infancy through adolescence. Environmental factors influence normal biological function to some extent. The immune system and the body’s stress response mechanisms may not develop normally in a child who experiences fear, chronic stress, or high stress during their early years. Later, these systems may automatically react as if the child or adult is experiencing tremendous stress when they are only exposed to normal amounts of stress.
For instance, when faced with stressful events, a person may exhibit strong physiological reactions, such as fast breathing or hammering in the heart, or they may “shut down” completely. Although these reactions are adaptive in the face of a serious threat, they are excessive under regular stress and are frequently viewed by others as being unresponsive, disconnected, or “overreacting.”
The growth of the nervous system and the brain can be hampered by stress in the environment. Neglected settings without mental stimulation may prevent the brain from reaching its full potential. Teen girls who have experienced complicated trauma may experience recurrent or persistent physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches. It has been demonstrated that adults with experiences of childhood trauma have more chronic bodily diseases and issues. They might act in unsafe ways that make these problems worse (e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to obesity).
Teen girls who have experienced complex trauma often have bodily dysregulation, which causes them to either overreact or underreact to sensory cues. For instance, they could be anesthetized or analgesic, which prevents them from feeling pain, touch, or internal bodily sensations, or they could be hypersensitive to sounds, scents, touch, or light. As a result, people may suffer from physical issues without realizing it, sustain injuries without experiencing any pain, or, conversely, complain of persistent discomfort in numerous body parts for which there is no physical explanation.
Thinking and Learning: Cognition
Teen girls with extensive trauma experiences may struggle to think coherently, reason, or solve problems. They might not be able to foresee the future, make predictions, or take appropriate action. When a teen girl grows up in a constantly dangerous environment, all of their internal resources are directed toward survival.
When their bodies and minds have developed a chronic stress response mode, many teen girls find it difficult to reason through a situation calmly and weigh all possible solutions. They could have trouble learning new things or absorbing new information. They could have trouble maintaining focus or curiosities or become sidetracked by reactions to traumatic reminders. They could have deficiencies in their capacity for abstract thought and language development. Many girls who have undergone profound trauma have learning issues that might call for assistance in the classroom.
Self-Concept and Outlook for the Future
Teen girls learn about their own worth from how others, especially those closest to them, react to them. The biggest factor on a child’s feeling of value and worth is their caregivers. A child who has experienced abuse or neglect will feel hopeless and unloved. A victimized child will frequently place the blame on themselves. It could be safer to place the responsibility on oneself than to acknowledge the parent’s risky and untrustworthy nature. Children with complicated trauma histories frequently experience shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and a negative self-image.
Long-term Effects on Health
Childhood trauma has been connected to a rise in medical issues over the course of a person’s life. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is a long-term investigation examining how childhood trauma affects people as adults. Over 17,000 people in the ACE Study, whose ages range from 19 to 90, are involved. Over time, researchers obtained medical histories as well as information on the individuals’ exposure to abuse, violence, and unfit caregivers as children.
According to the findings, about 64% of participants had at least one exposure, and of those, 69% reported having suffered two or more instances of childhood trauma. Results showed a link between exposure to childhood trauma, high-risk behaviors (such as smoking or unprotected sex), chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease, and early death.
If your teen daughter is experiencing difficulties due to past trauma, whether that trauma is real or perceived, please give us a call today to discuss the possibility of enrolling her at Evangelhouse.