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Mental Health

Young Adult PTSD Treatment

For young adults, experiencing trauma can cause life-altering changes. It can be especially difficult because the emotions that may come along with traumatic experiences are so complex as young people are going through major transitions and development.

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Working through trauma

What Does PTSD Look Like In Young Adults?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in individuals who have experienced a traumatic life event.

PTSD can make it difficult for someone to function on a day-to-day basis and can be associated with symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, and frightening thoughts.

PTSD can develop at any age, from children, those who have been through abuse or disaster, those who have experienced natural disasters, to war veterans.

PTSD can look different from person to person but can commonly be associated with feelings of isolation, depression, or anger.

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What Are The Symptoms Of PTSD?

After someone experiences a traumatizing event, symptoms commonly begin within 3 months of the incident. In some cases, symptoms may come up years after.

To be considered PTSD, symptoms must last over a month and impact their everyday lives.

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Re-experiencing symptoms
  • Flashbacks
  • Bad dreams or nightmares
  • Frightening thoughts
Avoidance symptoms
  • Staying away from things, places, people, or events that may remind them of their traumatic experience
  • Avoiding or suppressing thoughts and feelings that are related to the traumatic experience
Arousal symptoms
  • Being easily started, tense, or “on edge”
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Angry outbursts
Cognitive and mood symptoms
  • Loss of interest in things they used to once love
  • Negative thoughts or feelings about themselves or the world
  • Feeling guilt or blame
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Sandstone Care offers age-specific, individualized, and evidence-based treatment programs that help you regain control of your life and achieve lasting recovery.

What Causes PTSD In Young Adults?

Different factors can play a part in the development of PTSD in young adults.

Some people can develop PTSD after someone close to them experiences harm or if a loved one passes away.
Some factors that may increase the risk for PTSD may include:

  • Experiencing dangerous events or trauma
  • Childhood trauma
  • Sexual abuse or sexual assault
  • Getting hurt or seeing someone else get hurt
  • Having little or no support after traumatic experiences
  • Dealing with extra stress after a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, losing your home, job loss

Research is also being done to determine whether genetics and neurobiology may play a role in the development of PTSD.

The NIH reports that an estimated 4% of adolescents ages 18 to 29 had PTSD in a study done from 2001 to 2003.

Regarding children and teens, about 3% to 15% of girls who experience trauma will develop PTSD, along with about 1% to 6% of boys.

According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives.

8% of Women and 4% of men develop PTSD
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Does PTSD Damage The Brain?

Part of the brain, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, can all be associated with changes caused by trauma.

PTSD can be characterized by nightmares, flashbacks, sleep changes, and memory changes.

According to Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, it is hypothesized that symptoms of PTSD may represent stress-induced changes in brain structure and function.

PTSD can also cause changes in neurochemical response systems, which can include Cortisol and norepinephrine.

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Symptoms of PTSD can make individuals feel isolated or disconnected from the people or world around them.

Teens can experience symptoms similar to young adults, but symptoms may also include disruptive or destructive behaviors. Some teens may feel guilty for not preventing certain injuries or deaths that were out of their control or may even want to seek revenge.

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Internal triggers

Internal triggers are things that you feel inside. They can involve feelings, thoughts, memories, or sensations.

Some examples of internal triggers can include:

Anger or frustration
Loss of control

External triggers

External triggers happen outside the body and could be a situation, person, or place.

Examples of external triggers can include:

Movies or television shows

How Does PTSD Affect A Young Adult?

PTSD can affect a young adult’s whole life, including their physical and mental health.

It can contribute to other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or emotional numbness.

Young adults with PTSD may also use substances as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Misusing substances as a way to self-medicate can lead to more negative problems for one’s health and worsen the symptoms of PTSD.

PTSD can also make it hard for young adults to maintain relationships with friends or family, leading to problems at work or school.

It can be hard for someone with PTSD to talk about their experiences or feelings, which may lead them to isolate themselves, even from the people close to them.

How We Are Different

Sandstone Care aims to drive positive lasting change in real people. We understand that you have unique circumstances, so we offer a more personalized experience than you would find anywhere else.

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Age-Specific Care
Age-Specific Care

We are age-specific, not gender-specific. We focus on the unique circumstances that you face at your specific stage of life.

Evidence-Based Therapy
Evidence-Based Therapy

We only use treatment interventions that have been scientifically proven to provide consistent, lasting recovery.

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Small Group Sizes

You are more than a number, which is why we provide an intimate setting where your voice can be heard.

Individualized Treatment Plans
Individualized Treatment Plans

No one person is the same, and neither is their recovery journey. Your treatment program will be tailored to your unique needs.

Academic and Vocational Support
Academic and Vocational Support

We want you to get the most out of life, which means feeling your best in the classroom or at your job.

The Family Component
The Family Component

Recovery involves the entire family, so we provide support for the whole family system.

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How Does The Brain Work In PTSD?

PTSD impacts parts of the brain, specifically the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex.

These parts of the brain are responsible for fear response, memory, decision-making, and clear thinking.

Typically, when you experience stressful situations, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, also known as the brain’s stress response.

However, for those with PTSD, the brain doesn’t know how to shut off this response. The hippocampus wrongly assumes that you are still experiencing this traumatic event when something triggers it.

However, the brain is very flexible and adaptable.

Treatments like talk therapy can help the prefrontal cortex and amygdala become balanced again.

What Not To Do With Someone Who Has PTSD?

Sometimes, individuals with PTSD may feel like a burden to others, and it can be hard to open up about what they are going through.

There are different ways you can help someone with PTSD, but there are some things to keep in mind and try to avoid.

If someone with PTSD opens up to you, you want to ensure that you are not judgmental, invalidating, or denying their experiences and feelings.

Don’t tell people, “It could’ve been worse,” or give them advice they didn’t ask for.

Additionally, don’t guilt or blame all your problems or family problems on a person with PTSD; it is not their fault.

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How Do You Know If A Young Adult Needs Treatment For PTSD?

You may be unsure whether you or a loved one needs treatment for PTSD.

When PTSD is causing a negative impact on one’s everyday responsibilities, relationships, and life, it is important to reach out for help.

Additionally, if you or someone you love frequently experiences difficult thoughts or may pose a risk to themselves or others, seek help immediately.

If you are unsure, the best thing to do is reach out to a health care provider to receive a proper diagnosis.

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Treatment Options

How Long Does PTSD Treatment Last?

Talk therapy for PTSD and trauma treatment typically lasts around 6 to 12 weeks but can go longer depending on the individual’s needs.

Individuals’ experiences are different, so the approach to therapy is unique to each person, which is why treatment length may vary.

Will PTSD Ever Go Away?

For some people, PTSD doesn’t last forever.

Individuals may recover within 6 months, while for others, it may become a lifelong condition.

PTSD treatment can help young adults manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

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Talk therapy can be effective in young adult PTSD treatment.

Seeking help for PTSD helps people manage their symptoms and live the life they want. Sandstone Care is here to support teens and young adults with substance use and mental health disorders.

Treatment Modalities

What Is The Best Treatment Method For PTSD?

The most common and effective treatment method for PTSD typically includes medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) focuses on the balance of acceptance and change.

DBT helps young adults with negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

DBT can be broken down into four main parts: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.

Research suggests DBT may be helpful in the Treatment of PTSD as symptoms can affect emotion regulation, relationships, and cause self-destructive behaviors.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy can help people with PTSD face their fears.

Through exposure therapy, a person gradually revisits the trauma they have experienced in a safe setting.

Exposure therapy can help young adults cope with their feelings and gain a better understanding.

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Group Therapy

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists with a group of individuals who meet to discuss their experiences, feelings, and problems.

According to Psychotherapy Research, group treatments have been associated with improvements in the symptoms of PTSD, specifically group CBT.

In group therapy, young adults can learn from others’ experiences and build connections and a strong support network to help them through the treatment process.

People with PTSD can isolate themselves or find it difficult to share things with people who might not understand what their going through. Group therapy can provide people a safe space to open up and relate to others with similar experiences.

The Family Component
Family Therapy

PTSD affects both individuals and their relationships, including their families.

Through family therapy, each family member can express their feelings, better understand one another, and learn strategies and coping skills to help them support each other.

Family therapy can open up safe communication and contribute to a strong support network for those receiving treatment for PTSD.

Academic and Vocational Support
Academic & Vocational Support

Academic and vocational support for young adults helps individuals rebuild and work towards the life they want to live.

When young people struggle with PTSD, substance abuse, or other mental disorders, it is difficult to function in everyday life and work towards things they may have once loved to do.

By providing academic and vocational support, young adults can improve their self-image, create a sense of identity, and build up confidence that may have felt lost.



Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy used for PTSD.

In EMDR, you pay attention to a back and forth movement or sound. While doing so, you bring up difficult or upsetting memories and begin to process your past experiences.

Through this process, individuals can start healing and alleviate the emotional distress that comes with traumatic experiences.

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Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring can help individuals better understand and put together bad memories.

People with PTSD may remember certain traumatic events differently than how they happened. This can lead them to blame themselves for things that weren’t their fault.

A therapist can help a person realistically understand their events through cognitive restructuring.

Trauma Treatment Centers

You don’t have to be under the shadow of trauma anymore.

View All of Our Locations


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Virginia Beach Mental Health Center

5040 Corporate Woods Dr., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23462

(757) 585-3518
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health
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Mental Health Richmond VA

4880 Sadler Rd., Glen Allen, Virginia, 23060

(804) 494-6144
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health

Tinley Park Mental Health Center

16325 S Harlem Ave #260, Tinley Park, Illinois, 60477

(708) 905-2509
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health

Naperville Mental Health

8140 S. Cass Ave Suite B, Darien, Illinois, 60561

(331) 246-1162
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health
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The Continuum of Care

Care for wherever you are in your journey.

Access a full range of treatments for mental health and substance use disorders. Whether you need a safe transitional living community, inpatient care, or outpatient therapy, we have a program to help.

Learn more about levels of care

5-21 days of 24/7 on-site medical supervision.

Our Medically-Assisted Detox and Inpatient Center offers private rooms and 24/7 medically supervised care to support a safe recovery from drugs and alcohol, followed by comprehensive treatment that addresses your physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs.

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Detox Explained

2-6 Months

Our Transitional Living Program combines the structure of treatment and group living, with the freedom of living away from home.

This level of care is for young adults (18-30) who are not quite ready to heal from home. A safe and supportive living environment integrated with a PHP or IOP level of care so you learn life skills and healthy coping mechanisms in an environment that’s set up for your success.

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Transitional Living Overview

4 weeks of on-site day treatment.

Our Young Adult Day Treatment Program, also known as Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), is a highly structured level of care for young adults that offers five days of robust programming a week.

Our two distinct mental health and substance use tracks help young adults to stabilize, begin to understand their mental health and/or addiction struggles, and heal from them. We strive to help our clients become more like the person they want to be without using negative coping strategies or substances to get there.

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Day Treatment Explained

12 weeks of on-site or virtual treatment.

Our Young Adult IOP, or Intensive Outpatient Program, offers two distinct tracks to address young adult needs, each track consisting of 3-4 days of weekly programming.

In our mood disorder track, we are able to focus on mental health, depression, trauma, and anxiety. In our dual diagnosis track, we are able to support young adults with substance use and mental health challenges. Each focuses on developing positive social, academic, and vocational habits while continuing with their job or school responsibilities.

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Intensive Outpatient Program Explained


You Have Questions. We Have Answers.

Our goal is to provide the most helpful information. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions. We are here to help in any way we can.

Yes, PTSD can develop at any age, even in young children and teens.

However, The National Center for PTSD reports that the typical onset age for PTSD is young and middle adulthood.

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are forms of antidepressants that are sometimes recommended for PTSD.

PTSD is difficult for the individual and the people close to them.

Often, loved ones want to help but may be unsure how to.

One thing you can start by doing is educating yourself on PTSD. The more you know, the better you can offer support, understanding, and help.

It is also important to be patient and not pressure them into telling things they are not comfortable with or ready to talk about. Instead, assure them that you are there when they need you and learn about healthy ways you can support them.

Be respectful of them and their boundaries, and listen to them whenever they are ready.

When PTSD is left untreated, it can cause significant negative effects on one’s physical, mental, and psychological state.

Symptoms may worsen if a person doesn’t receive the help they need.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help young people identify unhealthy thoughts and behavior patterns that can lead to destructive behaviors and beliefs and learn how to restructure them.

CBT for PTSD treatment helps individuals confront reminders of trauma to help decrease emotional distress.

CBT can be offered in individual or group settings and refers to a variety of different therapies.

This form of psychotherapy has proven to be effective in treating a wide range of problems, including mental health disorders, substance use disorders, and PTSD.

Coping skills can generally be categorized into 4 main groups:

  • Problem-focused
  • Emotion-focused
  • Meaning-focused
  • Social coping

Problem-focused coping skills can include asking for help, establishing healthy boundaries, walking away from stressful situations, or working on time management.

Emotion-focused skills include meditation, journaling, exercise, talking, or positive thinking.

Meaning-focused coping strategies involve finding purpose and value in their experiences to manage stressful situations.

Social coping or support-seeking strategies can include things like spending time with family and friends, serving people in need, and taking care of or playing with a pet.

CPTSD stands for complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

The difference between PTSD and CPTSD is that CPTSD develops from a series of repeated traumatic events over months or years, as opposed to one single event.

Any type of long-term trauma may cause or lead to CPTSD.

Examples of long-term trauma can include:

  • Ongoing abuse
  • Prisoner of war
  • Childhood neglect

Complex PTSD shares similar symptoms with PTSD, along with additional ones that may include:

  • Lack of emotional regulation
  • Dissociation
  • Negative self-image or perception
  • Distorted view of the abuser

Gaslighting can be defined as the manipulation of others to doubt themselves.

Gaslighting is a form of abuse that can lead to problems with self-esteem and confidence, and can cause someone to become dependent on the person gaslighting them.

Common signs of gaslighting can include someone:

  • Saying you did things you know you didn’t do
  • Denying your memory of what happened
  • Calling you “crazy”
  • Blaming you and twisting what happened
  • Refusing the facts or reality

Someone who has experienced gaslighting may feel the need to apologize for things that aren’t their fault, have low confidence, have a distorted sense of self, or always feel that they’re to blame when things go wrong.

Over time, gaslighting can contribute to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, loneliness, and in some cases, trauma and PTSD.

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