How Many Teens Have PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD as it is commonly called, is a serious mental health condition caused by exposure to something traumatic, such as experiencing or witnessing violence or a catastrophic event. What many people don’t realize is that PTSD isn’t limited to adults—it can also affect teenagers. 

PTSD is often seen in children and adolescents who are experiencing other mental health concerns, such as depression, panic disorders, or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

embrace U is a Brentwood IOP for teens and adolescents that offers comprehensive treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. If your teen is struggling with PTSD alongside anxiety or depression, we can help.

How Many Teens Have PTSD: Facts and Statistics

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 5% of adolescents have experienced symptoms related to PTSD. Additionally, 1.5% of adolescents were severely impaired by their PTSD symptoms. Among adolescents, young women (8%) were significantly more likely to develop symptoms related to PTSD than adolescent boys (2%) (NIMH, 2022).

According to an article published in American Family Physician,  approximately 80% of patients with PTSD have at least one concurrent mental health concern. The most common of these include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse-related mental illnesses.

PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur as an individual’s reaction to a traumatic event. While the exact physiological and neurological reasons why PTSD occurs are still largely unknown, there are several factors thought to be involved, including chemical imbalances in neurotransmitter pathways, excessive stress hormones during an overly traumatic event, and changes in specific brain pathways or neural networks. As these underlying causes of PTSD can also lead to other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, it’s become evident that individuals experiencing PTSD almost always concurrently experience anxiety or depression.

The need for compassionate care increases exponentially when diagnoses like PTSD co-occur with depression or anxiety, which is why it’s so important that teens experiencing PTSD receive holistic mental health care that addresses all their needs at the same time, like the care available to them through embrace U. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

The symptoms of PTSD in teens and adolescents include:

  • Avoidance of anything connected to what happened during their traumatic experience – and sometimes other situations, too (for example, avoiding crowds).
  • Being easily startled or feeling tense all the time. This is because people with PTSD feel on edge when they’re exposed to things that remind them of their trauma (such as loud noises). They may also experience “hypervigilance,” which means they stay alert for possible danger even when there isn’t any real threat present.
  • Flashbacks or nightmares about the traumatic event. The person may relive the event as if it’s happening again, with all their senses heightened.

Why Do Teenagers Experience PTSD?

The causes of PTSD in teenagers are similar to the causes of PTSD in adults. However, teenage PTSD is more common than adult PTSD because teenagers are more likely to experience PTSD in response to traumatic events. This is likely due to teenagers lacking the life experience or maturity needed to recognize when they are struggling with PTSD and its related symptoms. It’s also likely that PTSD is more prevalent in teens due to their early exposure to traumatic events.

According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report regarding statistics from the National Center for Mental Health, 65% of today’s youth have experienced at least one traumatic event by the time they’re 16-years-old. These traumatic events include natural disasters such as floods or fires, vehicle accidents, physical assault, sexual abuse, domestic violence, threats from other people (bullying), witnessing a violent crime, or being present during an accidental death or suicide attempt.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is increasingly more common in teenagers and can arise from a variety of challenging experiences. As such, it’s important for caregivers of teenagers to pay careful attention to the behavior, moods, and physical health of their child because these can be indicators that something more serious may be happening. Moreover, recognizing the signs early on allows for swift intervention and appropriate treatment that can provide significant long-term benefits.

We Are Here For You.

Call our Brentwood mental health clinic today at (615) 236-8619 to learn more about our program and how we can help your child. Our experienced staff is here to empower and care for your loved one.

How Should I Help My Teen with PTSD?

If your teen is struggling with PTSD, it’s important to talk to them about their feelings. Let them know you’re there to listen and help, but also let them know it’s okay if they don’t feel like talking. It may take time for them to open up to you, so be patient and listen carefully when they do start talking. A child or adolescent who has been through something traumatic needs a lot of patience and compassion.

Some additional ways to help a teenager with PTSD are:

  • Building trust between you and your teen through honest communication and checking in regularly
  • Connecting with mental health professionals, like psychiatrists and counselors, for safety risk assessments, symptom management, and therapy services
  • Practicing mindfulness activities, like mediation or journaling, to reduce stress levels in both you and your teen
  • Understanding your teen’s PTSD triggers, which may include stressful events, trauma reminders, intense emotions, or negative thoughts

It’s also beneficial to talk with your child’s doctor, as they will be able to recommend and encourage your teen to get help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, who can provide effective treatment options for their PTSD symptoms. You can also find support groups in your area, like the group therapy offered through embrace U, where teens with PTSD can meet other teens who understand what they’re going through and offer each other encouragement, advice, and friendship.

Please give our compassionate professionals at embraceU a call today to see how we can help your teen overcome their mental health struggles and lead a happy, healthy, and productive life. While embrace U cannot exclusively treat PTSD, we do treat PTSD as a co-occurring condition alongside depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Call (615) 236-8619 to learn more about our mental health treatment clinic in Tennessee today.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (May, 2022). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from

Practice Parameters for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. (April, 2010). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 414-430.

Grinage, B.D., M.D. (2003). Diagnosis and management of post-traumatic stress disorder. American Family Physician. Retrieved February 5, 2023 from,abuse%2C%20and%20other%20anxiety%20disorders

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). SAMHSA’s concept of trauma and guidance for a trauma-informed approach (p. 9). HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4884. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved on February 5, 2023, from chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/