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Experience with young teens and PTSD?

DrMary's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Nov 2010

My 13-year-old son seemed to take his father's cancer treatments the best of all of us, but now I'm starting to wonder. He's playing more (and more violent) video games lately and really immersing himself in watching shows (like working his way through years of Dr. Who). He's also cranky and uncooperative a lot of the time.

I know - sounds like a typical teenage boy. However, a friend feels he has really changed over the last few months and I'm inclined to take her advice.

Anyone else encounter this? Suggestions for the best approach? I'm not against therapy, although we are tight on money and our insurance doesn't pay for much. Good books for him to read?

Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

Have you tried to contact the ACS to see if they have some free children's groups he can attend?

mswijiknyc's picture
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

Your friends instincts are probably right. Best advice is to see if you can find an adult both he and you trust that he can talk to confidentially, but with the understanding that if there is something serious (like hurting himself, doing something illegal, etc.) the adult will tell you. Otherwise, it's an A-B conversation. You don't neccesarily need a trained therapist, but a church youth group leader, pastor, even a Big Brother/Big Sister type person. Getting him in to see a doc can be helpful, especially if meds may be needed.

Mostly he should be able to talk it out, but needs a safe outlet to do so.

Lots of hugs - he'll be ok :)

Barbara53's picture
Posts: 658
Joined: Aug 2009

Oh, dear, I can't imagine what it must be like to have cancer and teenager funk in the house at the same time. Psychologically speaking, my daughter took a left turn when she was 13, and took years to come out the other side. We went though a lot, including using her college money for treatment, and in the years since she's told them there was little I could have done differently. She felt that everything sucked, and I just wanted her safe and happy.

The school counselor might be a good resource. In retrospect, my daughter appreciated knowing there was someone who cared at school.

She's 24 now, finished college and out in the world, and her self-dx is anxiety disorder. It was easier to withdraw into the pain than to deal with it, she says.

Good luck. I often found that if we went out to eat, just the two of us, and sat across the table, she would talk to me.

Posts: 64
Joined: May 2010

i am SO glad you posted this. my son will be 10 next month and his behavior has been deplorable! his grades have suffered and his attitude toward me is horrendous....i feel bad, like i have been less than a good mom since my dad got sick. i can't yell at dad, he's dying and i shouldn't yell at my little man because he didn't ask for any of this.....oh god, please take this sh!t away.......sorry, i'm having a particularly horrible day.

Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

My husband was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in Sept. of 2007. He passed away on 10-31-09. My son was 11 at the time of diagnosis and 13 when he passed. He watched his dad go through prolonged hospital stays due to the aggressive treatment or the surgeries, he watched him lose his hair, lose 80 lbs, being taken by ambulance to the hospital, and watching his father pass while holding his hand. Through it all, Bill kept up a 4.0 at school (in honors classes), played competitive sports and maintained friendships. A few times, he had become angry, but for the most part was ok. Months after his father passed, his grades started slipping, he made "new" friends, was suspended from school for "fight club" (had NEVER been in trouble before) . . . With the help of the school counselor and an outside therapist, Bill is now thriving (He is 14, has a 4.5 GPA and is on the school soccer team). I now know if his grades slip, he becomes moody/angry to get him in to see the therapist and usually within one or two sessions he is back on track. Hospice also offers counseling (free) and I called the ACS who sent me a list of local groups-free (groups for families, children, spouses, cancer specific . . .) I would tend to err on the side of caution and get help for your son. It may take awhile, but your son may not even realize "why" he is mad. He may need help to get through this. I will keep you in my thoughts ~cheryl

debbieg5's picture
Posts: 170
Joined: Nov 2010

it is sometimes hard to tell if it is just normal "teenage hormones" or something else going on. My middle boy is 15 and tends to be quiet and keeps to himself. I was worried about him during this whole ordeal for the last 8 months. Asked him many times to let me know if he wanted to talk about anything but he never would. He has also become increasingly more and more hooked in front of either the video screen or computer screen. I could see this going on but I was so busy taking care of Ken that I couldn't really offer anything else for him. I have only seem him shed a few tears since Ken died recently. But he has been acting even more angry than before with me. Our school has an arrangement with a counseling service where they are on site a couple of days a week. I am trying to make arrangements for him to meet with one of the counselors. I have also spoken to several of his friends and told them to keep and eye on him and let me know if they think he is having any problems.
I also know of a great place in VA. Not easy for either of us to get to but they have a lot or programs. I'll send you a PM.

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