• Residential Treatment Program for Teens 14-17

mental health

benefits of residential treatment centers

Top 5 Reasons Teens Benefit from RTCs

Top 5 Reasons Teens Benefit from RTCs 2560 1848 Solstice RTC

Adolescence is a challenging time for most teens. Their bodies and hormones are rapidly changing, and even their brains are going through new development. There is also the additional challenge of changing social dynamics as friendships begin to hold more importance than family relationships. Young women are beginning to figure out who they are as individuals as they discover new interests. Because of all these changes, many teens can feel like the ground is constantly shifting underneath their feet, and find themselves struggling to keep their balance. 

Changes and challenges are normal during adolescence, but there may be times when young women and assigned females at birth face particularly difficult struggles. In these situations, If your child has been struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or learning differences, it may be beneficial to look into enrolling in a residential treatment center (RTC). 

Why Enroll in an RTC? 

Residential treatment centers for teens are typically a good fit for young women and assigned females at birth who have already pursued some sort of outpatient therapy and have achieved limited success. One of the difficult things about outpatient therapy, especially for teens, is getting engaged in the therapeutic process. If a teen doesn’t want to attend outpatient therapy, they may skip appointments or be purposefully late. Or if a teen doesn’t feel like sharing, their therapist may be left in the dark. With residential treatment, that isn’t an option. Therapists are on-site with their students and are kept up to date about how each of them is doing day-to-day. Long-term residential treatment programs are often more successful than outpatient therapy or brief hospital stays as teens have more opportunities to apply the skills they’ve learned and internalize these changes. The skills that they develop while enrolled in an RTC are practiced daily with peers and staff trained to support them on their treatment path. 

Residential treatment centers not only help teens, but it can also help their families. Because teens will likely return to the home environment after treatment, it is important to involve family members so that old patterns and behaviors can be addressed. Additionally, family dynamics can be worked on in family therapy sessions. This type of family involvement results in better outcomes for the teen in the long term. Using an interdisciplinary treatment team, Solstice offers a holistic and comprehensive program for therapy and overall care. With each student’s primary therapist leading the treatment team, we incorporate all the professionals that serve each student to provide an unmatched combined treatment approach, all within the context of our relationship-focused therapeutic approach.     

Through this relationship-based work in family therapy, we are able to restore families to healthy, trusting relationships. Solstice’s family focus helps our teens heal more quickly, and this healing extends to all family members. Families have weekly distance therapy sessions as well as quarterly on-campus family seminars.

Finding the Right RTC for Your Teen

Girls and assigned females at birth can benefit in any number of ways from a residential treatment center like Solstice. When looking for an RTC that is a good fit for your child there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Removal from a Toxic Environment. Negative peers, easy availability of drugs or alcohol, stress at home or school, bullying, and other forms of mental and physical abuse negatively impact teens’ healthy development. RTCs provide a safe, supportive environment where your teen is distanced from stressors and negative influences. This gives them the chance to focus on the underlying issues they’ve been struggling with, which go beyond the behavioral problems they may have been experiencing. The structure of a new routine helps teens find stability and discover their personal motivation to make changes in their lives.
  2. Providing Valuable Resources. Caring, expert staff have experience dealing with the unique needs of troubled teens. Through individual, group, and family therapy, staff provide education about coping skills, thinking patterns, and changing personal habits for both teens and their families. Long term success depends on strengthening your child’s support system at home, not just in the program.
  3. Connecting with Peers. Teens identify with other teens. RTCs provide a supportive community where your teen connects with others going through similar experiences. These connections create a unique support network with a focus on recovery. At Solstice, we believe that relationships are at the core of everything we do. The positive influence of peers can promote a powerful and sustainable change when combined with the intentional application of other therapeutic interventions.
  4. Teaching Transferable Skills. If your child cannot take the skills they’ve learned in the program back home, what use are they? A residential treatment center should strive to help your child build life-long coping skills that will continue to help them when they exit the program. Quality residential treatment centers for teens provide varied opportunities, such as adventure therapy, to learn and shift perspectives. When these experiences are integrated with individual therapy, your teen develops positive qualities like self-confidence, emotional resilience, and effective communication skills.
  5. Continuing Academic Progress. Many parents fear that their daughter’s education will be put on hold if they decide to enroll their in a treatment program. Teachers at Solstice work closely with the entire treatment team (parents, educational consultants, therapists, future school) in order to complete an individualized academic plan that will make certain a transition plan to the next school or post-secondary institution. With an accredited year-round academic program, girls and assigned female at birth are able to earn, catch up on, or get ahead of high school credits. The core classes offered are aligned with the state curriculum.

With many choices for treatment for your child, it is important to research your options to help you find a program with a mission statement and treatment plan that best suits your teen and your family. As a leading residential treatment center for teens, Solstice is known for our compassionate and relationship-based therapeutic approach. We believe that teens heal best in the context of healthy relationships, so we have created a safe and nurturing space for our students to do so.

The Benefits of Residential Treatment for Teen Girls

A residential treatment center for teens can help struggling teens by providing an increased level of support from what is available in the home environment. This typically includes individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy throughout the week. RTCs for teens also have some sort of academic programming available. The types of therapies and academic options vary from one RTC to another, depending on the individual needs of the students served.

RTCs are considered “residential” as students live on-site while they are receiving therapeutic support.  At Solstice, the close-knit environment created by the milieu on campus encourages life-long friendships and positive growth. 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, 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. The length of time that a teen is at a residential treatment center varies greatly and depends on their individual goals as well as the RTC they are enrolled in. 

Guided by our relationship-based approach, the therapists understand the clinical value of spending time with the students beyond the walls of the therapist’s 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. Therapists often participate in outings, camping trips, recreation activities, and mealtime with students. Participation in these and other activities outside of the therapy office results in deeper, more trusting relationships, thereby facilitating a more effective therapeutic impact.

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West is a residential treatment center for young girls and assigned females at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This comprehensive program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned females at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Solstice is dedicated to teaching teens how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. 

Our goal is to equip them with the tools needed to lead happy, successful lives. We provide a nurturing and welcoming environment for teenage students and help them recognize that they are on the cusp of something wonderful: the chance to heal from their past and become the best version of themselves. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.

For more information about how your child might benefit from a residential treatment center, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today!

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.

mindful new year

Starting the New Year Strong: Mindfulness Practices for A Fresh Start

Starting the New Year Strong: Mindfulness Practices for A Fresh Start 2560 1707 srtc_admin

After all of the challenges, heartache, and nonstop stream of negativity that 2020 brought to our world, 2021 presents an opportunity to reset our mindsets and start the new year intentionally with a fresh perspective. One way we can achieve this is through practicing mindfulness. A growing body of research supports the benefits mindfulness can have on our minds and bodies such as improved memory, heightened awareness, lowered anxiety, and reduced stress.

Mindfulness practices you can employ to restart and refresh your mind for the new year

While it’s common to conflate mindfulness with meditation, mindfulness encompasses so much more than the practice of meditation. Essentially, mindfulness is the moment to moment awareness of one’s experiences without judgment. This state of mindfulness or being aware is something that we can continually practice as we try to pay attention on purpose to the present moment.

Because mindfulness is fostered through regular practice, the first important step is putting aside time each day to engage in a mindfulness activity. Select a time of day where you will be able to engage in your practice uninterrupted, and commit to practicing every day.

Once you’ve set aside dedicated time to commit to your practice, it’s time to try performing various mindfulness practices. Different practices work better for different people, so it’s a good idea to vary up your exercises to see what works best for you. Try these mindfulness exercises to restart and refresh your mind in 2021:

1.) Bodyscan – During a Body Scan exercise, you deliberately focus inward on your body and what each part of your body is feeling. Is it pain, tension, calm? The task here is to develop an awareness of sensations in different parts of your body without trying to change them, only noticing them.

2.) Three-minute breathing – There are 3 steps to this practice, and the first is to attend to what is. Take note of the environment around you without attempting to change what you are experiencing. Then focus on your breath, noticing what happens when you breathe in and out. Lastly, focus your attention on your body and any sensations you may be feeling. Practice this technique here.

3.) Mindful stretching/yoga – Physically experiencing mindfulness can help to bring awareness to the mind-body connection. While you are stretching, bring attention to your breath while thinking about how your body feels. While engaging in this activity, try to focus only on the present sensations and not external, distracting thoughts.

4.) Mindful breathing while focusing on thoughts – For this practice sit somewhere quiet in a seated position. Focus deeply on your breathing, inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for 3 seconds. Continuing to focus on your breath, notice as your mind wanders and bring your attention back to the breath, again inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for 3 seconds.

5.) Mindful walks – When you are on a walk give your full attention to the experience of walking. Instead of walking on autopilot like we usually do, deliberately think about each step you are taking. Feel the ground beneath your feet, notice what this feels like as well as noticing the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Bringing attention to our everyday actions allows us to experience the mundane with a sense of newness.

If you are struggling to get started, there are some incredible mindfulness apps that you can download to help you with your practice. Try Headspace, Calm, Aura, or smiling mind to help you get started on your journey.

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 teen students on their journey toward healing by utilizing a blend of therapeutic techniques based on both traditional and holistic treatment methods.

Our holistic approach accounts for the fact that our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational selves are all bound together. We uniquely approach change, emphasizing students’ strengths within a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth are supported and valued. For more information on how Solstice RTC could help, please call (866) 278-3345.

blame and shame in relationships

How to Navigate Family Conflict Without Blame

How to Navigate Family Conflict Without Blame 2560 1437 srtc_admin

Conflict happens in every family. And while it is completely normal, it is important to deal with conflict in a healthy way. If you find that your conversations around family issues lead to yelling or slamming doors, it may be time to evaluate your communication methods. Talking in circles or playing the blame game fuels tension and the focus becomes who is right instead of finding a solution to the problem.

Communicating Without Blame

Good communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. When you are able to communicate effectively, you build trust and feel supported. 

  • Use “I” Statements: An “I” statement is a style of communication that focuses on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker rather than thoughts and characteristics that the speaker attributes to the listener. For example, if your teen isn’t cleaning their room after you’ve asked them multiple times, instead of saying “You still haven’t cleaned your room. You’re so irresponsible!” You can try, “I feel disrespected when I have to ask you multiple times to clean your room.”. 
  • Take Responsibility: It’s easy to feel defensive during an argument. Despite feeling frustrated in the moment, in most conflicts, there is fault on both sides. Instead of putting all the blame on the other person, take a moment to think about how your actions or behaviors may have contributed to the conflict. Admitting that you may have played a role in the problem helps the other person feel like they’re not just being attacked for their mistakes. 
  • Approach Conflict with a Problem Solving Attitude: Instead of focusing on how you are right and your teen is wrong during conflict, think about how you can come up with a solution that will make both parties feel heard and supported. When we get caught up in who is right, it leaves no room for moving forward towards a solution.
  • Take a Break: Not every conflict is going to be solved in the moment. If emotions are getting high and one person is placing blame on the other, take a break. You can have an understanding in your family if at any time a conflict becomes counterproductive, you are always welcome to take a break to de-escalate and come back to the conversation when everyone feels more calm and ready to find a solution. 
  • Seek Help: While it would be nice to be able to solve all of our problems on your own, there may be times when you need to seek outside help. If your family is unable to resolve conflict and you find yourselves in the cycle of arguments and blame, a family therapist can help. A trained mental health professional can help your family identify areas of conflict and work with you to build healthy communication skills to work through those issues in the future. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

Our mission is to support adolescents and their families in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journey. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, close relationships with their families, peers, and staff.

Family therapy interventions are at the heart of our clinical program. We firmly believe in the strong nature and immense importance of family relationships. Research studies on the effectiveness of residential treatment indicate that the most significant factor in creating positive long-term outcomes for the child is parental involvement in the treatment process. Parental involvement is defined not only by the parents being actively involved in the child’s treatment but being actively involved in their own treatment and growth process. For more information please call (866) 278-3345.

teen borderline personality disorder treatment

Borderline Personality Disorder In Teens: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Borderline Personality Disorder In Teens: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment 2560 1707 srtc_admin

According to the National Institute of Mental Health: “Borderline personality disorder is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.”

Teens with borderline personality disorder may experience an intense fear of abandonment or instability. They may also have difficulty spending time alone, but their impulsive actions and mood swings push others away. Borderline personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood, and while it can seem to be worse during early adulthood it may gradually get better with age. 

Signs and symptoms of BPD may include:

  • A pattern of unsuitable and intense relationships
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that includes shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all.
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia or loss of contact with reality
  • Impulsive and risky behavior
  • Suicidal threats or behavior or self injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection. 
  • Mood swings which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame, or anxiety
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate or intense anger

Treatment Options

If you are concerned that your child is showing signs of borderline personality disorder, the first step is to meet with a mental health professional. A clinician will be able to provide a formal diagnosis for your teen as well as create a treatment plan. Treatment can help teens learn skills to manage their condition. A mental health professional may also suggest seeking treatment for any other mental health disorders that often occur in tandem with borderline personality disorder such as depression or substance abuse. 

Psychotherapy is a fundamental treatment approach for borderline personality disorder. The goals of psychotherapy are to help teens learn to manage emotions that feel uncomfortable, reduce impulsivity, work on improving relationships, and learn about borderline personality disorder. One type of psychotherapy is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT includes group and individual therapy designed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. DBT uses a skills-based approach to teach teens how to manage their emotions, tolerate distress and improve relationships.

Learning to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors takes time. There may be times when their symptoms are better or worse, but treatment can improve their ability to function and helps teens feel better about themselves. There may be a time when your teen needs more intensive care, and a residential treatment center can provide the medical and emotional support they need. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

Our goal is to equip our students with the tools needed to lead happy, successful lives. We provide a nurturing and welcoming environment for teenage students, and help them recognize that they are on the cusp of something wonderful: the chance to heal from their past and become the best version of themselves.

Our therapy for teens acknowledges the fact that to create lasting, effective change, a holistic approach to health is necessary. This fact underlies and drives all the components of the Solstice program. Solstice RTC is committed to hiring the most qualified, professional, caring staff that is dedicated to helping the students we serve. Our staff also undergoes specific, regular training to continue their own personal and professional development which is essential to the life-creating work we do. For more information, contact us today at (866) 278-3345.

emotional struggles in teens

Working Through Emotional Struggles in Teens

Working Through Emotional Struggles in Teens 2560 1707 Solstice RTC

Our culture often portrays teens as moody, dramatic, and difficult to deal with, which can mask deeper emotional and mental struggles that go far beyond the dramatic teen trope. An increasing number of preteens and teens are suffering from a range of emotional and mental struggles such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, behavior problems, low self esteem, and difficulty coping.

A 2019 study discovered that this upward trend is significant with a 52% increase of depressive symptoms in teens from 2005 to 2017 and a 71% increase in those experiencing serious psychological distress from 2008 to 2017. This study also discovered that these trends have had a much larger impact on younger generations which can be in part explained by the increase of electronic communication and social media.

The increased likelihood of teens experiencing emotional struggles in adolescence can have significant long term impacts on their futures, with a 2016 study claiming that suffering from emotional problems in adolescence puts individuals at a higher risk for future joblessness. Adolescents who were highly distressed during their teens years were 26% more likely to be unemployed during early adulthood, irrespective of socio-economic background.

The risk of future success, along with myriad negative impacts on teens during adolescence, signals the importance of learning about common emotional issues in teens, what to look for, and how to help.

Common emotional struggles in teens

When looking at emotional struggles in teens, it’s important to account for gender differences. Before puberty, the prevalence of emotional disorders is about the same for boys and girls and assigned female at birth at about 3-5%, but by adolescence girls and assigned female at birth are twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with a mood disorder. This disparity has been explained by researchers as differences in the way girls and assigned female at birth process emotional stimuli in the brain. Because girls and assigned female at birth mature faster in terms of emotional recognition, this sensitivity can make them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety during adolescence than their male counterparts.

Teen girls and assigned female at birth experiencing emotional issues and disorders are most likely to be diagnosed with internalized disorders such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. These disorders are expressed within the individuals and reflect troubled emotional states. While this is the umbrella term for emotional struggles, there are many subsequent struggles within the category of internalized disorders.

Anxiety is one of the most likely emotional struggles for adolescent girls and assigned female at birth to experience. It can manifest in many different forms that can cause a range of symptoms for young women. Generalized anxiety disorder refers to the excessive anxiety and worry about daily events or activities, and the intensity, duration, and frequency of this excessive worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or effect of the anticipated event. Individuals struggling with generalized anxiety will find it difficult to control their worries and thoughts and are unable to prevent these thoughts from interfering with attention on given tasks.

Another type of anxiety teen could face is social anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety is marked by excessive fear or worries about participating in social situations, causing them to avoid all social activity. Teens can also experience panic disorder, which results in repeated and unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks are brought up by an intense surge of fear and result in cognitive and physical symptoms such as pounding heart, sweating, trembling or shaking, feelings of choking, nausea, and fear of losing control.

Two other types of common anxiety disorders in teens are obsessive compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. OCD in teens can present as contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions, repeating symmetry ordering and counting compulsions, or forbidden or taboo thoughts. PTSD can develop following childhood trauma and can result in fear-based reexperiencing of the trauma, anhedonic mood states, negative cognitions, and dissociative symptoms.

Beyond anxiety, another common type of emotional struggle in teen girls and assigned female at birth are mood disorders which include depression, bipolar disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Depression is one of the most common emotional issues teens can experience and is marked by low mood, feelings of hopelessness, a loss of interest in all activities, and increased irritation and aggression. To be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder by a medical professional, symptoms need to persist for a period of at least two weeks.

Bipolar disorder can also occur in teens, and is categorized by distinct periods of abnormally and persistently elevated and expansive moods or irritability and persistently increased activity or energy lasting at least 4 consecutive days. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder can occur in girls and assigned female at birth starting during puberty and is the recurrence of severe changes in affect including mood, irritability, dysphoria, and anxiety during the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Lastly, adolescent females and assigned female at birth are more likely than other groups to experience eating disorders and self injury or cutting. These disorders can be born out of low self-esteem and negative self-image and may not necessarily be a direct result of depression. These measures are often taken as a dysfunctional coping mechanism to alleviate emotional pain or numbness. If you worry your child could be experiencing any of these emotional conditions, there are many warning signs you can look for.

Warning signs your teens could be experiencing emotional struggles

While each individual emotional struggle teens experience has its own set of symptoms, there are common signs of emotional and mental illness you can be on the lookout for if you worry your teen may be struggling. Common warning signs include:

– Excessive worrying or fear
– Feeling extreme lows and sadness
– Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
– Extreme mood changes including feelings of euphoria and uncontrollable highs
– Prolonged feelings of anger or irritability
– Avoiding activities or hanging out with friends
– Struggling to understand and relate to others
– Changes in sleeping or eating patterns and habits
– Changes in attitudes around sexuality
– Difficulty perceiving reality which could include delusions or hallucinations
– Inability to look inside one’s feeling and perceive changes
– Use or abuse of substances such as alcohol or drugs
– Physical pain or ailments without any obvious cause, which could include headaches, stomachaches, and ongoing aches/pains
– Thinking about or talking about self-harm or suicide
– Verbalizing fears about weight gain or concern about appearance.

If your child is exhibiting any of the mentioned symptoms, it’s important to start interventions right away. In addition to the symptoms experienced from the disorders themselves, there are also add-on effects that may cause lifelong issues, such as the study that identified potential employment deficits for those experiencing emotional issues.

Additionally, emotional issues can create negative impacts on academic and social functioning, which will not only put their beyond their peers but can exacerbate anxious and depressive symptoms. For these reasons, it’s essential to identify strategies to help your child through this tough period.

Strategies for helping your child through emotional issues

There are many things you can do as a parent to help your child work through emotional struggles, at the core of which is constantly communicating your love as teens decide how to feel about themselves largely by how their parents react to them. Try these strategies to help your child build strong emotional health:

Support building confidence and self-esteem: Help your child build up their confidence by praising their often and being specific about the praise. Tell their exactly what they does that makes you proud of their and how they contributes to the family system. Make this praise more about who they are and what they does than compliments related to their appearance.

Provide emotional support: Encourage your teens to talk with you about the various emotions they may be experiencing and provide a non-judgmental listening ear and soundboard for them so they feel understood and heard.

Provide a safe environment: Make sure your home is an environment where your child feels safe and loved. Maintain daily and weekly routines so they feel secure and confident about home being a safe space.

Teach resilience: Work with your child on how to make it through tough times. This can include teaching coping skills to manage stress and anxiety, and how to find learning opportunities in setbacks and failures.

Consider therapeutic interventions: There are many effective types of therapies known to benefit teens struggling with anxiety and depression such as cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma focused equine therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.

If your child is struggling to work through emotional issues, Solstice RTC can provide their the safe and therapeutic space they needs to heal.

Solstice RTC can help your child through emotional struggles

Solstice RTC is one of the leading residential treatment centers for adolescents ages 14-17, and we specialize in helping teens 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 people with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

We help teen students experiencing a variety of challenges related to past trauma, loss, attachment issues, depression and mood disorders, and low self-esteem. Our approach to change emphasizes student’s strengths within a therapeutic culture where acceptance, chance, and growth are supported and valued. Positive relationships characterized by emotional safety are at the crux of this process. For more information on how Solstice RTC could help, please call (866) 278-3345.