Adolescents Struggling with Trauma may be Impaired in Certain Social Skills
Trauma changes the way you see yourself, the world around you, and your place in the world around you. Research into PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, is still new and developing. However, it is clear that trauma changes the way the brain works, starting with the brain’s interactions with the nervous system. Trauma at a young age can severely influence the developing brain. New research suggests that trauma experienced in adolescence might create specific social impairments which can be problematic for adolescents as they mature.
New York University published their findings in Child and Adolescent Mental Health after examining more than 350 teenagers to understand trauma. Specifically, researchers were investigating PTSD, conduct disorder symptoms, and how such affected youth can process facial expressions. Researchers found that adolescents with PTSD are impaired in their ability to recognize certain emotional expressions. For example, PTSD affected youth mistake angry facial expressions for fearfulness. Fear goes awry in youth with PTSD has trauma tends to create a constant state of fight or flight. Mistaking anger for fear might indicate that adolescents become so absorbed by the fight or flight process they can no longer comprehend other emotions without a foundation of fear.
Interestingly, adolescents who had symptoms of conduct disorders mistook sadness for anger. Conduct disorders can include many symptoms of antisocial behaviors, including isolation and alienation. The research indicates that the presence of conduct disorder symptoms could mean adolescents have a marked difficulty in recognize the emotional experiences of others’ sadness. Conduct disorders can lead to the development of antisocial behaviors in which adolescents might entirely lose their ability to engage in empathy or compassion. Such youth may not be able to read other people’s pain or suffering, which problematically enables their poor behavioral decision making.
Emotional intelligence is a major component of any adolescent’s recovery when they go to treatment. Adolescents learn how to identify their emotions, evaluate their emotions, and regulate their emotions. In addition, adolescents learn how to recognize the emotions of others and sympathize with them. Treatment for co-occurring trauma or conduct disorder can help adolescents navigate any issues in developing emotional intelligence. Adolescents are fully capable of recovering and leading emotionally driven, emotionally healthy lives.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center offers long term residential treatment programs for addiction recovery. Our programs involve the whole family for foundation building, life cleansing change.
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