Typical trauma responses by developmental age:

Pre-adolescence and Adolescence (12-18)


  • Increased feelings of anxiety and worry
  • Worries about the trauma reoccurring
  • Survivor's Guilt (belief that he/she could or should have prevented the traumatic event)
  • Repetitive thoughts about death and dying
  • Changes in sleep/and or appetite
  • May feel that school, or even the world, is not safe
  • Irritability, anger, and/or depression
  • Have difficulty seeing themselves as having a future
  • Inability to concentrate
  • "All or nothing" thinking (people are all bad or all good)
  • "Overgeneralization" of the event (school will never be safe again)
  • Behavioral changes, increased anger, may become more aggressive
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Withdrawal, avoidance of trauma reminders
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Increased risky behaviors – alcohol and drugs
  • Absenteeism
  • Increased somatic complaints
  • Increased startle response – to certain noises or other trauma reminders
  • Intrusive thoughts about the trauma
  • Frequently talks about the details of the event
  • Denial of impact of the event
  • Daydreams or flashbacks about the event
  • Nightmares


  • Excessive worry thoughts about safety and the safety of those around them
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Thoughts and statements about death and dying (including suicidal thoughts)
  • Denial of impact of event
  • Survivor's guilt
  • All or nothing thinking, overgeneralization


  • Lack of interest in previous activities and social events
  • Difficulty sleeping/eating
  • Aggression/anti-social
  • Somatic complaints (stomach aches, headaches, etc.)
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Sensitive or "jumpy" with loud noises
  • Withdrawal/isolation
  • "Risky" or impulsive behaviors - alcohol and drugs
  • Often feel a need to discuss the event in detail

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