By Dr Paras
We recently observed the World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, where we remembered those who succumbed to self-sabotage and extended a helping hand to those who are going through a similar trial. Traumatic experiences are universal, but there has been a burgeoning rise in cases of teen depression. The lack of psychological awareness makes it even more difficult to process information, which fuels the trauma.
Parents, teachers and caregivers can understand the trauma a teenager undergoes and be the backbone in healing and helping in their fight for emotional and mental stability.
Some of the most common signs of a traumatised teenager are their lack of participation in events that children their age usually enjoy. The impact of trauma on a teen’s mind can affect their self-esteem and self-confidence.
They feel incapable of making decisions and tend to procrastinate, withdrawing into their shells and perceiving the world through a muted filter. Listening to music or watching movies on repeat mode are some tell-tale signs of trauma. Some more serious indications are an addiction to hard drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.
Teen trauma and sense of trauma in adults
One of the most disturbing facts about teen trauma is that it doesn’t end with adolescence but gets rubber-banded to adults as well. The experience can extend into adult life where fully-grown people are subjected to fear and aggression that has culminated in their minds over the years.
Even if they grow into successful corporate leaders or famous personalities, their traumatic experiences as teenagers is like a wick that can light up the same insecurities that they tried to suppress so hard all these years. Therefore, we can safely say that teen trauma doesn’t get resolved by squashing it but with gentle therapy that eradicates any traces of it. Inner strength also plays a very important part in healing from such traumatic past. Celebrities like Eminem and Lady Gaga are a product of their traumatic past, but chose to address the issue and fight against it to become an inspiration.
Trauma or depression can be passed down generations. While some truly understand the implications, most tend to see it as a phase, which leaves the teen helpless and without support. This, in turn, leads to immense passive aggression that can wean the adolescent child away from the parents and create a rift.
Resolution of teen trauma
It depends on the type of trauma a person has gone through. It can be a shame, repression or any other de facto element that plagues the person’s mind. Depending upon these facets, the way to resolve these underlying and repressed memories is open communication.
Many times, teenagers are unable to talk about things that are bothering them or the profound negative impact an experience had on them. Mostly, they are scared of the stigma attached to mental health. Most believe that voicing their thoughts with respect to traumatic experiences will ostracise them from society and leave them emotionally and mentally impaired.
We can consider this stigma as a thick blanket of negativity, keeping the person from seeing the light of positivity. Parents and teachers can play a very important role in negating the impacts.
For instance, parents can start a culture of accepting psychological problems, telling their teenage sons and daughters that it is okay to ask for help during traumatic situations. This is half the battle won as the child knows that he/she has the family to turn to.
Additionally, education systems and boards can bring in more knowledge and awareness about psychological issues and take appropriate steps to destigmatise it. Teachers should be able to recognise the patterns in their students who are undergoing traumatic experience or have memories of such situations plaguing them.
They can help them understand the need to openly communicate their thoughts and expressions as well as make the path towards healing easier. Institutes can also hire counsellors who are trained to help in such cases and make students value themselves holistically. The education system should encourage psychology for grade 5 or 6 where children are introduced to the subject.
Most importantly, counselling should be celebrated as a step towards strength and the will to make things better for oneself. If implemented on a larger scale, these steps have the power to bring about a change.
(The writer is a life-leadership coach and founder, Matrrix.)