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Treating PTSD in Young Adults

a person talks to a therapist about ptsd in young adults

Trauma is a response to experiencing or witnessing a fearful event that threatens a person’s sense of safety and well-being. While many people experience trauma and process it appropriately, others do not. Unaddressed trauma that is not treated correctly can have devastating effects, including the development of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

When trauma symptoms worsen, last for one month or longer, and interfere with daily functioning, individuals should seek help from a PTSD treatment program. Many people with PTSD rely on drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, opening the door to substance use disorders (SUD).

If you or a loved one struggle with unresolved trauma, help is available at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset. Call 866.931.6429 for more information.

The Effects of Trauma Are Important to Understand

Trauma affects everyone differently. Even people who experience a similar traumatic event will have unique reactions. However, trauma affects the same areas of the brain for all: the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, which work together to process our responses to trauma.

The prefrontal cortex regulates impulse control and emotions. The amygdala is the emotional and instinctual center of the brain, and the hippocampus controls memory. The memory of a traumatic event creates the following chain reaction of events:

  • The amygdala goes into overdrive, making it feel like one is experiencing the trauma for the first time.
  • The prefrontal cortex becomes suppressed, making it challenging to control fear, leaving one in a purely reactive state.
  • Reduced activity in the hippocampus confuses memory, so the brain cannot distinguish between the initial trauma and the memory of it.

Trauma also impacts the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, neural connectivity, and neurotransmitters, causing changes in cognitive and emotional processes, imbalances contributing to mood disorders, and chronic activation of our fight-or-flight response.

In most cases, the brain naturally processes trauma over four to six weeks so that the memory of it no longer causes distress. However, sometimes, the brain gets stuck, particularly when people experience repeated exposure to trauma.

With untreated trauma, the brain remains hypervigilant, suppressing memory and impulse control and leaving one in a perpetual state of intense emotional reactivity.

What to Expect in Treatment of PTSD in Young Adults

Treating PTSD in young adults involves a comprehensive approach utilizing a combination of evidence-based and holistic treatment modalities. Key components of treatment include the following:

  • Assessment and diagnosis – Accurate assessment and diagnosis are crucial and involve thoroughly evaluating the traumatic event and the resulting symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy – cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and trauma-informed therapy are essential evidence-based approaches to PTSD treatment.
  • Medication – Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are often used to manage PTSD symptoms.
  • Group therapy – Sharing with others who have experienced similar traumatic events helps create a sense of understanding and promotes peer connections.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques – Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Exposure therapy – In some cases, gradual exposure to triggers related to the traumatic event can help reduce the symptoms they cause.
  • Safety planning – It is critical to identify safety concerns and develop a safety plan for young adults at risk of self-harm or suicide.

Overall, the treatment of PTSD in young adults is based on individual needs and circumstances. However, all treatment programs should focus on holistic treatment for emotional, physical, and mental healing and growth.

Contact Evoke Wellness at Cohasset for Treating PTSD in Young Adults

It’s not always easy to recognize difficulties resulting from trauma. Many young adults who have experienced trauma have shame, fear, guilt, and self-blame that prevents them from reporting the trauma, leaving parents, friends, and others in the dark about what they are going through.

The expert treatment team at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset provides individualized, compassionate, and comprehensive care for young adults struggling with PTSD and co-occurring disorders.

If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, we can help. Our admissions counselors are available 24/7. Call 866.931.6429 or reach out online to learn more about our PTSD treatment program.