• Residential Treatment Program for Teens 14-17

Depression

smartphone addiction

Does Smartphone Addiction Lead to Depression or Vice Versa?

Does Smartphone Addiction Lead to Depression or Vice Versa? 2560 1707 srtc_admin

For many teen girls a typical day looks something like this: wake up, roll over and check her phone, scroll through social media while she’s getting ready for school, text friends on their way to class, check out some TikTok videos during lunch break, catch up on anything she missed on social media after school, answer all the notifications as they come while at home, scroll through social media or watch a show on their phone while lying in bed before falling asleep. If we truly monitored the amount of time our daughters spent on their phones, the number would be staggering. But does the amount of time they spend on their phone actually have an impact on their mental health? 

Typically, when we think about teens who spend a lot of time on their phones, we are more likely to wonder if they’re lonely than if they’re popular, or an up-and-coming social media influencer. This suggests that the idea of the relationship between depression and social media addiction is already imprinted in our minds, even if we don’t quite understand how they became so interconnected. New research suggests a person’s reliance on their smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around. 

What Contributes to Smartphone Addiction?

When looking at the relationship between smartphone addiction and depression, these researchers decided to focus on adolescents, as rates of both issues are most prevalent among this age group. Not only have they all grown up with smartphones, but they are at a stressful stage in life where they are more vulnerable to not knowing how to cope with mental health struggles in a healthy way. 

We often think that teens who don’t know who to talk to or where else to turn in life escape into a virtual world, but researchers claim that this problem starts much earlier. Many teens who spend a lot of time online recognize that social media is addictive and has affected their self-esteem, but they feel like their social reputation is tied to their online presence and therefore can’t delete their accounts. 

One of the major negative effects smartphone use can have on girls’ mental health is contributing to a constant sense of comparison. They see filtered images and pictures of smiling, happy people living their best life. It is easy to see how they could begin to view their own life negatively. They may begin to question why they are not as happy or why they don’t have what other people have. This is also tied into FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out. Social media allows users to be constantly updated when the people they follow post or when they receive a like or comment. Because they fear missing out, disconnecting from their device may feel impossible. 

Why Focus on Effects of Smartphone Use?

“If depression and loneliness lead to smartphone dependency, we could reduce dependency by adjusting people’s mental health,” explains study co-author Pengfei Zhao said. “But, if smartphone dependency (precedes depression and loneliness), which is what we found, we can reduce smartphone dependency to maintain or improve wellbeing.”

“We’ve really been trying to focus on this idea of dependency and problematic use of smartphones being the driver for these psychological outcomes,” describes Zhao. “There’s an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don’t have it accessible, and they’re using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life.”

If we understand that smartphone use is common and, at this stage, fairly natural for young adults, how can we determine when that use has become detrimental? Here are some things to be aware of:

  • Withdrawing from face-to-face social interactions: Maybe you’ve noticed that your daughter quit her favorite after school club or is choosing to stay home on the weekends instead of going out to meet their friends. If she is starting to withdraw or isolate, this can be a sign that she is becoming too dependent on her technology use. 
  • Consistent anxiety, stress: If her smartphone use is leading to mood swings or elevated levels of stress and anxiety that is a clear signal that her smartphone use has become unhealthy. 
  • Grades begin to slip, and assignments reflect poor work or are left undone: If all of their focus is on social media, other areas of their life may begin to suffer. If your previously studious daughter has chosen to spend her evening learning a new TikTok dance instead of preparing for her tests it can lead to a negative impact on her school work. 
  • Avoidance of real life responsibilities, such as chores or homework: For many teens, the last thing they want to do is clean their room or empty the dishwasher. But these are important parts of having healthy, balanced lives. Excessive smartphone use can quickly throw that balance off. 
  • Ill at ease, ill-equipped or unresponsive to people in front of them: If your daughter is spending more time on her phone and less time interacting in real life, she may begin to feel uncomfortable in social situations. Like most things in life, practice is key to building skills, and without that real world practice they do not have the opportunity to build those skills. 
  • Phones begin to create conflict in their closest relationships: What happens when you ask your daughter to put her smartphone away? Does she lash out and get angry? Does limited phone use cause an outburst? Unreasonable reactions to being separated from their smartphone may mean that she has created unhealthy habits. 

Building Offline Communication Skills in Residential Treatment:

Having worked with adolescents with mental health issues for over a decade, Solstice RTC has noticed a recent increase in the number of girls and assigned female at birth we work with who have also struggled with smartphone addiction. Noticing this intersection, we have adapted our programming to help address the unhealthy ways that technology is used, expectations that teens have about their online identities, and communication skills missing from online interactions. 

Raising awareness about social media addiction has become a unique part of Solstice RTC’s program by teaching parents how to handle these issues and set boundaries around electronics.

Equine Therapy: In addition to group and family therapy, we believe that equine therapy is a powerful way of teaching relational skills, like nonverbal communication and social awareness. Using body language with these sensitive animals helps students learn how to better communicate with others and build relationships.

Weekly phone calls with family: Teens today are used to having more conversations online than in person–even with their families. This depersonalized way of socializing often gets in the way of maintaining two-way conversations. While they do not have access to cell phones, students at Solstice are encouraged to make regular phone calls to friends and family members to strengthen their support system. Every week, students have the chance to video chat with their parents during therapy sessions.

Home visits offer opportunities to self-monitor social media use: Students periodically go home for a few days, prior to leaving the program, to gauge how they handle being at home with access to their cell phone and social media. Every teen has an individualized technology contract that they work on with their parents and their therapist to decide what boundaries, if any, may need to be set around healthy media use. 

At Solstice RTC, our goal is to help teen girls and assigned female at birth learn how to use their phones to communicate more effectively with people without feeling like they have to be attached to their phone every second of the day. Many of the girls and assigned female at birth we work with come to our program struggling with a “fear of missing out” and describe their compulsion to “stay updated” on their online social lives all the time.

“For the most part, I can do things and have it in my pocket and not need it. Right now, it’s not that big of an issue for me. I can be by myself and be okay and I’m reconnecting with a lot of things I love. And I don’t feel empty.” -Testimonial from former student who struggled with internet addiction

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls and assigned female at birth often struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD,  technology addiction, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender-specific techniques. With a strong emphasis on family therapy based intervention, nutrition, and physical fitness, and the supportive provision of cutting-edge academics, substance abuse/addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services, 

Solstice sets the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve. We strive to empower teenage people with the ability to believe in themselves offline and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about smartphone addiction, contact us at 866-278-3345.

social anxiety in teens

Shyness or Social Anxiety in Teens? Symptoms and Triggers

Shyness or Social Anxiety in Teens? Symptoms and Triggers 1790 2560 Solstice RTC

Adolescence is filled with new experiences and challenges. Teen girls are going through physical and emotional changes and puberty starts and social dynamics begin to shift. With all these changes, it is easy to see how young women may feel uncomfortable or shy in these new situations. Friend groups may start to expand or contract, and your daughter will have to begin to learn how to create new friendships and relationships. This can be challenging for any teen girl, but for girls struggling with social anxiety, this can be even more difficult. 

Struggling to fit in with people your own age as a teen girl or child assigned female at birth is terrible. Most teen girls and assigned female at birth base their entire lives around their social life. They make it a higher priority than spending time with their family and/or even doing well academically. For some teen girls, this social life is not an option. Social anxiety in teens can be absolutely crippling in many aspects of a teen’s life. Unlike the self-consciousness most people feel from time to time, social anxiety in teens creates a fear of social situations that is so intense people avoid all situations that might trigger the fear response.

What is social anxiety? 

Feelings of shyness or discomfort in certain situations aren’t necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder, particularly in children. Their comfort levels in social situations will vary, depending on their personality traits and life experiences. Some teens are naturally reserved and others are more outgoing.

In contrast to everyday nervousness, social anxiety disorder includes fear, anxiety and avoidance that interfere with daily routine, work, school or other activities. Social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid-teens, though it can sometimes start in younger children or in adults.

Many people experience some form of anxiety in their lives, but social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings. Teens with this disorder have trouble talking to peers, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. They fear being judged or scrutinized by others. They may understand that their fears are irrational or unreasonable, but feel powerless to overcome them.

There is no one cause of social anxiety, but current research shows that it can be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Some negative experiences that could contribute to social anxiety are bullying, family conflict, and abuse. Physical abnormalities such as a serotonin imbalance may contribute to this condition. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood. An overactive amygdala (the part of the brain that controls fear response and feelings or thoughts of anxiety) may also cause these disorders.

Anxiety disorders can run in families, but it is currently unclear if there are genetic factors involved. A teen may develop an anxiety disorder by learning the behavior of a parent or family member who has an anxiety disorder. They learn to internalize these behaviors which can trigger a disorder of their own. Teens can also develop anxiety disorders as a result of being raised in controlling or overprotective environments.

Social anxiety in teens is actually fairly common. However, the social situations that trigger social anxiety can be very different. Some of these triggers include:

  • being the center of attention
  • meeting new people
  • making small talk
  • being criticized or teased
  • speaking with authority figures
  • public speaking
  • navigating new spaces

How can you tell if your teen has social anxiety?

Just because your teen occasionally gets nervous when she’s in social situations doesn’t mean they necessarily have social anxiety. Many people are shy or self-conscious—at least from time to time—but it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety in teens, on the other hand, does get in the way of a teen’s normal routine and can cause tremendous distress. That’s why it’s important to note symptoms of social anxiety in teens:

  • Fear that others will notice nervousness
  • Fear of humiliation and being watched by others
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Reddened face
  • Blushing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • Muscle tension

Teens with social anxiety may avoid situations that they used to enjoy such as social gatherings or school events. They may begin to withdraw and isolate as a way to deal with their anxiety. And while avoiding situations that cause anxiety may help them feel better in the moment, their anxiety is likely to continue if they do not receive treatment. 

If you notice that your teen is exhibiting signs or symptoms of a social anxiety disorder, it may be time to seek out professional help for a diagnosis. According to the ADAA, about 36 percent of people with social anxiety don’t speak to a healthcare provider until they have had symptoms for at least 10 years. The symptoms of social anxiety may themselves be a deterrent to reaching out for help. A mental health professional will diagnose social phobia from a description of your teen’s symptoms. They can also diagnose social phobia after examining certain behavioral patterns.

Treating Social Anxiety

There are several types of treatment available for social anxiety disorder, and different types of treatment make work for different people. For some, one type of treatment is beneficial, for others, a combination of treatments may be helpful. 

Treatment options for social anxiety disorder include: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy helps teens learn how to control anxiety through relaxation and breathing, and how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. CBT helps teens recognize their behavior patterns and how to address negative patterns to create positive one. 

Exposure therapy: This type of therapy helps teens gradually face social situations, rather than avoiding them. They can practice coping skills in challenging environments so that they can start to become more comfortable in these situations. 

Group therapy: This therapy helps teens learn social skills and techniques to interact with peers in social settings. Participating in group therapy with others who have the same fears may make them feel less alone. It will give them a chance to practice their new skills through role-playing.

There are also lifestyle changes you and your teen can take into consideration. Paying attention to their sleep habits and making sure they are getting enough rest can be a good first step, as well as avoiding stimulants like caffeine that can make them feel jittery or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Some teens may also benefit from medications that manage anxiety symptoms. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can play a part in a treatment plan. 

The most important thing to understand when dealing with an anxiety disorder is that it will likely take time for your teen to get their symptoms under control. Encourage your teen to have patience and take pride in the steps they are taking to improve their mental health. 

Residential Treatment for Social Anxiety 

For some teens, making changes at home and participating in outpatient therapy can be helpful. Other teens may benefit from the structure and support of a residential treatment center. A residential treatment center like Solstice West combines therapy practices such as individual, family, adventure, and group therapy for a holistic treatment approach. 

Milieu therapy is an experiential therapeutic approach that utilizes the residential environment of our program to better understand how to help your child approach and overcome their challenges. At Solstice West, milieu therapy is carried out by observing your child’s behaviors and emotions throughout the day, within a variety of different settings. Milieu therapy provides an invaluable “in the moment” understanding of your child’s challenges, unique from traditional talk therapy. Milieu experiential therapy utilizes the social culture of a residential treatment environment to create positive changes in your child’s behavior. These changes are achieved through the therapeutic use of our campus’s “community”, which includes their peers, staff, community roles and responsibilities, groups, and meetings. The positive influence of peers can promote a powerful and sustainable change when combined with the intentional application of other therapeutic interventions.

Volunteering and community service is a significant component of our adventure therapy program. Our students participate in community service regularly, volunteering at a variety of local and regional organizations. Our students learn how to build and maintain a sense of community by repeatedly volunteering with a select group of organizations in our area. As they gain stronger relationships with the people and organizations we work with, they begin to feel more connected to the community and the work they do.

Solstice West Can Help

Solstice West, a residential treatment center for teen girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18, can help your child struggling with social anxiety. Solstice helps girls and assigned female at birth struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and eating issues. 

Our relationship-based philosophy is based on the significant body of research that supports the idea that the “therapeutic alliance” is the factor that contributes most to positive change in the therapeutic process. This “alliance” is referring to healthy, trusting relationships. At Solstice, we ensure that your child has the ability to develop many safe, secure, and authentic relationships. This begins with employing the right people and training them effectively in the process of building and maintaining these relationships with our clients and families. For more information about Solstice, please call (801) 406-7256.

suicidal ideation in teens

Suicidal Ideation in Teens: Knowing the Signs

Suicidal Ideation in Teens: Knowing the Signs 2560 1707 Solstice RTC

The adolescent years can be especially challenging for teens. Their bodies are changing at a rapid rate and they have to deal with new emotional behaviors as their brains continue to develop. In addition to the physical and mental changes, they are also experiencing changes in peer dynamics. Friendships may become more complicated as peer pressure increases, and they may be dealing with their first experiences with romantic relationships as well. It is not surprising that all of those big changes and emotions can trigger mental health struggles for teens. During this time in their lives, some teen girls and assigned females at birth begin to show signs of depression or even suicidal ideation. 

What is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation, also known as suicidal thoughts, exists in two forms – active and passive. Active suicidal ideation means that the person is actively planning their death. In passive suicidal ideation, the person has thoughts of death but no plan to kill themselves. Most people experiencing this struggle don’t follow through with committing suicide. However, it’s considered a risk factor for suicide and must be taken very seriously.

Many teens who experience suicidal ideation also have mental health conditions. As a result, they have trouble coping with the stress of being a teen, such as dealing with rejection, failure, breakups, and family turmoil. They may not be able to conceptualize that there are ways that they can solve their problems or get back on track. That feeling of hopelessness can lead to suicidal ideation. Suicidal thoughts can take an emotional toll. For instance, teens may be so consumed by suicidal thoughts that they can’t function in their daily life. 

Risk Factors and Causes

Suicidal ideation, according to researchers, is caused by a combination of risk factors that come together to influence suicidal thoughts. These risk factors and causes can include:

  • Environmental factors: Being caught in a stressful situation such as expulsion, a parental divorce or moving to another place can trigger suicidal ideation in teens who already struggle with their mental health. 
  • Genetic factors: Psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia, are passed down to teens through the genes of family members. These disorders are known to cause suicidal ideation in those suffering from them. Substance abuse is also genetically linked, which also causes suicidal ideation.
  • Trauma: Left untreated, a history of physical or sexual abuse or exposure to violence can lead to suicidal ideation. These teens may be dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, or emotional and physical triggers. 
  • Physical factors: Lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin have been found in people with suicidal ideation. Additionally, people with terminal diseases may experience suicidal ideation.
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior of loved ones: Seeing the suicidal behavior in a familiar setting may influence some people to experience suicidal ideation themselves.
  • A lack of healthy coping skills: People with poor coping skills might turn to suicidal ideation as a way out of whatever struggle they are dealing with.

This article published by The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health further explains these risk factors and possible causes. 

Symptoms of Suicidal Ideation

Watching out for symptoms of suicidal ideation in your teen is important in preventing them from taking further steps towards suicide. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, depressive symptoms that relate to suicidal ideation can include:

  • Talking about death excessively. This could also include consuming media such as books, tv shows, or movies that center around death or suicide. 
  • The desire for isolation. Withdrawing from friends and family is a way to hide their struggles from the people around them. They may feel that they are not worth anyone else’s attention, or that they don’t deserve help. 
  • Sense of calm or happiness after a period of depression. Highs and lows can mask symptoms of depression. That sense of calm may come from the fact that they are thinking about suicide as an option to “solve” their problems. 
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits. Sleeping or eating habits can be excessive or it can be a deprivation of one or both. 
  • Feelings of helplessness and desperation. They may feel that there is no solution to their problems. If you try to problem-solve with your teen and they are despondent or hopeless, it could be a sign of suicidal ideation. 
  • Depressed mood. Depression is often related to suicidal ideation. 
  • Negative self-evaluation. A lack of self-esteem can lead teens to believe that they are not important or worthy of help. 
  • Anhedonia. Without the ability to feel pleasure, it is difficult for teens to find joy in their life. 
  • Poor concentration. If your teen is excessively distracted it may be a sign that there is something deeper happening. Intrusive, suicidal thoughts could be distracting them during everyday events. 
  • Indecisiveness. The inability to make seemingly simple decisions may be caused by a lack of self-esteem. They may not believe that they can make the “right” choice because they’re always wrong. 
  • Lack of reactivity of mood. Experiencing a full range of emotions is normal and healthy. If your daughter is not reacting to anything either negatively or positively, it is a warning sign. 
  • Psychomotor disturbance. Slowed movements, facial immobility, mental slowing, or a delay in motor activity. 
  • Alcohol and drug abuse. Teens experiencing suicidal ideation are often also feeling overwhelmed by their emotions. They may lack the coping skills to deal with these emotions, so they instead turn to alcohol or drug abuse. They may be trying to “self-medicate” by numbing themselves with substance abuse.

Teen girls struggling with suicidal ideation may feel overwhelmed and completely alone. They may feel completely unable to reach out for help, or they may even make “jokes” about how the world would be better without them. It is important to take the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation seriously. Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.

Helping Teens with Suicidal Ideation

Dealing with suicidal ideation can be scary, but there are ways that you can support your daughter during this difficult time. Encourage your teen to express her emotions and help her build her emotional vocabulary. She may express that she’s feeling sad, but having terms, even scary ones, like “depressed” or “suicidal” can help her clearly and directly communicate her struggles. When your daughter is going through a depressive episode or having those suicidal thoughts, she may begin to withdraw from family and friends. That isolation can make those feelings even worse. Encourage your daughter to stay connected to the people who make her feel loved and supported. 

In cases of suicidal ideation, it is crucial for you and your daughter to seek out help. Her doctor may suggest working with a mental health professional. A therapist may recommend psychotherapy, medications and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk of suicide. Once you have met with a therapist and created a treatment plan, make sure you follow the plan. If your daughter is undergoing treatment for suicidal ideation, remind her that it might take time to feel better. Help your daughter follow her doctor’s recommendations. You can also encourage your teen to participate in activities that will help her rebuild confidence and reconnect. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

If your teen is experiencing suicidal ideation, sending them to a residential treatment center may be the best option. Our therapists have a caseload of six students, which enables them to provide a greater deal of personal contact and involvement in the teens’ everyday lives. Guided by our relationship-based approach, the therapists understand the clinical value of spending time with the students beyond the walls of the therapist office. The ability to build rapport outside of the office setting is critical to the development of a therapeutic alliance, which is necessary in the healing process.

Solstice RTC  is a residential treatment center that provides a therapeutic holistic approach for teen girls and assigned female at birth ages 14 to 18. Instead of treating specific problem areas such as suicidal ideation, Solstice treats the entire individual. With a road map influenced by the archetypal Hero’s Journey, each student walks a unique and very personal path towards discovering the hero within. Students and families progress through the stages of this journey at their own pace. Although the journey is their own, they do not travel it alone. This journey is about people, discovery, growth and mastery. “Of course there is gold at the end of the rainbow, everyone knows that,” the poet wrote, “but the secret of secrets is in the cave.” It’s in the cave, the dark abyss, that we must go to face our “dragons” of fear, insecurity and self-doubt. In the slaying of those dragons, unrealized power is discovered and heroes are born. Solstice students may not realize they are heroes when they enter Solstice, but the heroes emerge during their journey, and the child you once knew returns home stronger than ever before.

For more information on how Solstice RTC can help combat suicidal ideation and other mental health issues, please call us today at (801) 406-7450.

underage drinking and depression

Underage Drinking and Depression Go Hand in Hand

Underage Drinking and Depression Go Hand in Hand 2560 1707 srtc_admin

Substance use in teens, particularly alcohol use, is increasingly common as factors such as peer pressure, environmental influences, a desire for independence, and trying to cope with emotional issues push teens toward drinking. A 2017 youth risk behavior survey found that among high school students 30% drank some amount of alcohol, 14% binge drank, 6% drove after they had been drinking, and 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking.

While in some cases, drinking can be seen as just a sign of teenage experimentation, research has shown that drinking in teens can be indicative of underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 in 10 substance abusers were also found to have a mental disorder. Due to the frequency of these co-occurring disorders, learning about the link between depression and substance abuse and its consequences can help you learn how to best support your daughter who is struggling with these issues.

The link between drinking and substance use and depression in teens

For all people, but particularly for teens with still-developing brains, substance use and depression is a dangerous combination. When teens are struggling with emotional problems, such as depression, they often turn to drinking or drugs as a means of self-medication to alleviate the negative feelings they are experiencing. Teens will most frequently turn to alcohol because it is the easiest to obtain and is more socially acceptable. Even though it’s illegal for them to purchase alcohol, they are often able to get it from older friends, siblings, or even their parent’s liquor cabinets.

Some teens who are struggling with mental health disorders are more likely to drink or use drugs because it can make them feel more comfortable in social situations and inside their own heads. Because drinking is normalized, teens can be more comfortable with this sort of medicating rather than taking prescribed medicines like anti-depressants. Other teens drink or use substances in an effort to cheer themselves up or dull the irritability they feel from depression. If they are offered what seems like an escape from the depressive symptoms and negative thoughts they are experiencing, it can seem like an effective coping mechanism.

In the short term, using substances such as alcohol will appear to alleviate the unwanted negative mental health symptoms of depression and anxiety because they affect the same brain regions that the mental health disorders do. However, in the long run, teens end up feeling even worse than they did when they are not using the substances and this can lead to dangerous outcomes such as suicide, substance abuse or addiction. This is a particular risk for adolescents, who are more likely to develop a serious substance disorder at a much faster rate than adults. For those teens who already have an underlying mental health disorder, the rate of developing an addiction can happen even faster than in other kids. This is so prevalent that at least half of all teens diagnosed with a mental health disorder will end up having a substance abuse disorder as well if they are not treated.

There are many factors that may contribute to a risk of developing these co-occurring disorders. One of the leading factors researchers cite is genetics, as they have found specific gene combinations that are associated with vulnerability to developing both depression and substance abuse. Another leading factor is gender differences. Women are at a higher risk for developing co-occurring disorders, and studies have shown that females who abuse alcohol are 4 times more likely to develop clinical depression. The inverse has also been found to be true, that women are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs as a result of a depressive episode.

Diagnosing these co-occurring disorders can be difficult as many of the signs and symptoms of both disorders are closely related. However, if the standard signs of depression such as a loss of interest and aggravation occurred before the substance use started, the person was likely suffering from depression first. If the symptoms appeared after the initial use of alcohol or drugs, the depression could be a result of the substance use. Check for these symptoms if you worry your daughter could be experiencing these disorders simultaneously:

– Anxiety
– Tiredness or changes in sleeping patterns
– Feelings or expression of guilt
– Changes to eating patterns or appetite
– Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
– Non-specified aches or pains that have no obvious cause
– Deep feelings of sadness or weepiness
– Being irritated or triggered easily
– Self-destructive actions or thoughts

In addition to exacerbating depression episodes and symptoms, developing these co-occurring disorders can have severely negative impacts on teens in other ways.

The challenges that drinking and depression can create for teens

Because the brain is still developing during adolescence, particularly the parts that control decision-making and impulse control, teens have an enhanced vulnerability for not only developing substance disorders and mental health disorders as teenagers but later on in life as well. Early drug use is a strong risk factor for developing substance abuse problems as an adult and it can also be a risk factor for developing other mental illnesses in adulthood. One study found that experiencing a mental health disorder as a teenager can be the catalyst for drug abuse in adulthood, and they suggested that earlier diagnosis of mental health disorders can help reduce this comorbidity. 

There are many additional consequences and challenges associated with early drinking and substance use beyond developing or worsening depression. Underage drinking is commonly linked to increased risky sexual behavior and also increased vulnerability to coerced sex. Teens who drink are more likely to have sex before the age of 16, to have sex while drinking, and to engage in unsafe sex practices after drinking.

Substance use in teens also puts them at risk for engaging in other types of risky behavior and victimization. Instances of risky behavior include theft, driving while intoxicated, running away from home, getting arrested, skipping school, trying to hurt themselves, getting into physical altercations, and vandalizing property.

Alcohol use in teens is also related to physical and academic issues as well. Heavy alcohol consumption in adolescents can delay puberty, slow bone growth, and ultimately result in weaker bones in adulthood. Teens using substances can struggle academically as alcohol damages areas of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory, verbal skills, and visual-spatial cognition. These deficits are also associated with a high drop-out rate, more missed classes, and lower overall grade point averages.

With all of the possible negative consequences of suffering from comorbid conditions of substance use and depression, it’s essential to get teens the help they need right away to prevent lifelong impacts.

How to get treatment for your teen suffering from depression and substance use

Treating the dual diagnosis of addiction and depression can vary from the more traditional route of treating the addiction first and then the depression, to more progressive methods that treat both conditions simultaneously to reduce the risk of relapse in either condition.

For teens especially, it’s important to find treatment that focuses on treating both disorders concurrently to avoid either disorder falling between the cracks. Additionally, teens that have been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders aren’t typically successful in traditional addiction treatment programs like the 12 step recovery model, as the stress they suffer during these programs can be counterproductive to recovery.

Health professionals that aim to treat both conditions at the same time will often use cognitive behavioral therapy in tandem with medication to manage withdrawal symptoms from substances and help manage depressive symptoms. Programs that have been found to be particularly successful for teens are ones that build positive social connections. This can include recovery groups that are designed for teens to play an important role in emotional support and skill-building that helps teens cope with the negative feelings associated with mental illness and substance addiction.

If your teen is experiencing the co-occurring disorders of depression and substance abuse, Solstice RTC can help provide her the care she needs to be successful on her healing journey.

Solstice RTC can help 

Solstice RTC is one of the leading residential treatment centers for adolescents ages 14-17, and we specialize in helping young women on their journey towards healing by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based on traditional and holistic treatment methods. We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

We treat teen students experiencing a variety of challenges related to past trauma, loss, mood disorders, and addictive behaviors. Your child will be supported by a passionate team of therapeutic experts who have specific training and experience working with trauma, loss, and addiction. For over a decade we have been a proven leader in successfully treating adolescent women struggling with a variety of challenges. For more information on how Solstice RTC could help, please call (866) 278-3345. 

severe depression in teens

Getting Treatment for Depression in Teen Girls

Getting Treatment for Depression in Teen Girls 2560 1707 srtc_admin

While depression can occur in both genders during adolescence, teen girls and assigned female at birth are more than twice as likely to develop depression than their male counterparts. If your child is experiencing depression, it can negatively affect how they thinks, feels, and behaves, and it’s crucial to seek treatment to get their back to feeling like herself.

What depression treatment can look like and where to start

The first step in seeking treatment is getting a depression diagnosis from a mental health professional. If a doctor suspects your teen may be experiencing depression, they will typically do a physical exam, run labs, and perform a psychological evaluation to determine a diagnosis and identify related complications. During this assessment, the doctor may also offer specifiers to clarify which type of depression your child is experiencing, such as anxious distress, melancholic distress, or atypical depression features.

Once a diagnosis has been made, there are many different treatment options that could be recommended based on the severity and type of your child’s depression. One of the most common treatment options for teens with depression is to put them on medication. Medication like Prozac and Lexapro can help to mitigate your daughter’s depressive symptoms, but you’ll want to discuss the possible side effects and pros/cons with your child and their doctor.

If you decide on the medication route, it can take some time and trial and error to find the right medicine and dosage, so encourage your teen not to give up if it’s not helping right away. You also want to make sure you are monitoring your teen’s use of their medications. In order for these medications to work as they are intended, they need to be consistently taken with the correct dosages at the correct times.

Another treatment option instead of, or in tandem with, medication is talk therapy or psychotherapy. These therapy sessions allow your child to talk through their depression and related mental health issues with a mental health professional. Talk therapy is recommended for those looking to learn about depression, how to make changes to unhealthy behaviors or thoughts, how to find better ways to cope, how to regain a sense of happiness and control, and how to ease depressive symptoms.

If medication and therapy haven’t had the positive outcomes you were hoping for, a residential treatment center could provide the all-encompassing and integrative care they needs. These programs, like Solstice RTC, provide a homelike environment that allows your child to focus on their healing journey in a comfortable, safe environment.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice RTC is a leading residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-17 that has been specifically designed to help teens struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationships by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based on traditional and holistic methods.

Your child will be supported by a passionate team of therapeutic experts who have specific training and experience in working with depression, trauma, loss, and addiction. Our goal is to provide them with a nurturing and welcoming environment that allows them the chance to heal from their past and become the best version of themselves. For more information about how Solstice RTC can help your child through their depression please call (866) 278-3345.