Is My Teen Struggling as a Result of Trauma or a Mental Health Disorder?


Is My Teen Struggling As a Result of Trauma or a Mental Health Disorder?

When your teen is struggling, you may wonder if they are going through the normal ups and downs of adolescence. However, if they are experiencing mental health symptoms, it could be a result of trauma or a mental health disorder. Figuring out which is important as it will help you as you assist them in healing. As a parent, discovering the root issues is difficult. Fortunately, working with a treatment facility like Sustain Recovery can help you to understand the root cause of your teen’s challenges and how you can help them to heal.

When Your Teen Is Struggling

As a parent, you watch your child go through many ups and downs. The adolescent period, for many individuals, can be very challenging. Teens tend to struggle with mood swings, stress, body image, and more. Some of these challenges are normal in your teen’s development and are due to hormonal and physical development that is occurring during the teenage years.

It is challenging to watch your teen struggle. You naturally want to help them succeed and improve their overall well-being. Fortunately, you can make a significant difference in your teen’s life. You can help them to understand the root causes of the challenges they are experiencing and get the treatment that helps them build skills and heal.

Struggling With a Mental Health Disorder

When your teen is struggling with a mental health disorder, their challenges will be unique to them and the specific disorder. However, overall they will be significantly different from the normal difficulties that a teen faces. To distinguish between normal challenges and a mental health disorder, ask yourself if there are behaviors or other symptoms that are disrupting their ability to function in daily life. These symptoms may impact their social relationships, home life, or ability to be successful in school.

If your teen is struggling with a mental health disorder and it is time to get help, they are likely to experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Consistently low energy
  • Unable to sleep well or feel rested
  • Oversleeping
  • Social isolation and distancing themselves from friends and loved ones
  • Excessive exercise
  • Self-harm
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Participating in high risks behaviors either alone or with friends
  • Lack of connection with reality

Your teen’s challenges are unique, and you know them best. Therefore, you might see other symptoms that you know are abnormal for them. If they are impacting your teen’s ability to function, working with a mental health professional can help you to know if they are struggling with a mental health disorder.

Is It a Result of Trauma?

If your teen is showing signs of mental health challenges, it may be a result of trauma. However, knowing if trauma is the cause of your teen’s symptoms can be challenging. Fortunately, there are some signs and symptoms of trauma that can help you differentiate between mental health symptoms and symptoms of trauma.

Naturally, experiencing trauma causes stress. Early signs of trauma include fatigue, confusion, and agitation. However, many teens also experience numbness, dissociation, and physical arousal or hyperactivity. These responses to trauma are normal and healthy. When they are long-lasting, however, they become problematic.

While some symptoms of mental health disorders and trauma are overlapping, many are not. If your teen is struggling with their mental health as a result of trauma, they might be experiencing the following:

  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty sleeping due to nightmares
  • Avoidance of things that remind them of trauma
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty with life skills 
  • Unable to settle down or relax

Getting Treatment When It Is a Result of Trauma

If your teen is experiencing mental health symptoms, it is important that they get help. As their parent, you can encourage and assist them so that they get the treatment they need to heal. However, treatment for mental health symptoms due to trauma differs from treating symptoms specifically due to a mental health disorder.

Treatment for trauma will be focused on helping your teen to process the trauma while addressing the symptoms that the trauma has caused. Therefore, treatment for your teen will be unique to their challenges. Alternatively, mental health disorder treatment will help your teen through psychotherapy, medication, and alternative therapies. In mental health treatment, your teen will learn skills to manage their mental health.

Treatment at Sustain Recovery can help your teen to address both trauma and mental health disorders. First, mental health symptoms will be noted, as well as the presence of a mental health disorder or a history of trauma. Your teen will then be treated for the issues they are having. Through treatment, they can heal from their past trauma and learn to build skills that will help them to manage and maintain their mental health as a teenager and later on as an adult.

When teens experience trauma, they have many symptoms that are similar to those of a mental health disorder. However, as a parent, you may not be sure what is causing their symptoms. At Sustain Recovery, we understand how difficult it is to parent a teen struggling with their mental health. Our program helps you and your teen to understand the details of their symptoms and their root causes. Then, we will help you and your teen build the necessary skills to heal. If you are interested in learning more about our treatment programs for mental health treatment, trauma treatment, and addiction treatment for teens, call us at (949) 407-9052. Speak with a caring staff member today.