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teen mindfulness program

Breathe In, Breathe Out: How Mindfulness Helps Teens who Struggle with Depression and Anxiety

Breathe In, Breathe Out: How Mindfulness Helps Teens who Struggle with Depression and Anxiety 640 426 se_admin

Teen suicide. Substance abuse. Bullying and fights. Although seemingly unrelated, these all too frequent epidemics are plaguing today’s schools; and, frequently, they seem to spring from a single common source. Teenagers are finding it tough to cope these days; the challenging, sometimes stifling demands of peer pressure and academic performance placing undue stress on their sensitive psyche.

In order to combat these issues—and, for that matter, the feelings of anger, frustration, and sometimes out and out the hopelessness that accompany them—many school districts are offering mindfulness sessions in school.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of slowing down and paying attention to yourself and your surroundings in the moment. For many teenagers, their day consists of running from school to after school clubs to homework to family obligations. Their days are tightly packed, and even in their down time, they are rarely focusing on one task at a time. For example, during homework time, many teens can also be found chatting with friends via social media or watching videos. For previous generations, a ride in the car or a walk around the neighborhood forced them to look out the window or take in their surroundings. Today, teens can be watching movies, listening to music, or posting on social media during those same activities. Being mindful and slowing down is no longer a built in part of their day. Instead, teens need to learn how to actively engage in mindfulness practices and set aside the time to do them. 

Mindfulness involves the teaching of techniques like breathing and meditation to help people calm themselves and control their emotions.

Here is how you and your teen’s teacher can put mindfulness to work for them:

  • Guide the teen in the commission of deliberate deep breathing exercises. The phrase “Stop and take a good deep breath,” never has been more applicable. The simple act of stopping, falling silent, and taking a good, deep breath can do much to center and calm a frenetic teen; especially if they happen to be in the throes of an anxiety attack, when the simple process of breathing becomes strained and difficult.
  • Learn more about yoga and meditation. These sacred, time-honored arts have been utilized for centuries to bring peace, balance and happiness to people of all ages. Through instructional classes, books and videos, you can learn the principles and practices of yoga and meditation; passing this information on to your troubled teen. Teachers can lead meditative sessions in the classroom, and physical education teachers might integrate yoga into daily fitness regimens. Parents can morph a good yoga or meditation session into an enjoyable family activity.
  • Encourage self-reflection. Train your teen to reflect on and contemplate their problems and stressors; also to discuss these issues with parents and teachers, so that you can work together to find healthy and workable solutions.
  • Teach and encourage your teen to express themselves. When teens are empowered to release their tensions and frustrations in constructive and highly creative manners, then they no doubt will feel calmer, more centered, and more in control of their emotions. If they can sing a song instead of scream, draw a picture instead of take a drug, write instead of cut, etc., then they will develop a positive and intensely constructive outlet for their emotions.

Form a mindfulness team with your teen. When you meditate, breathe or draw/write/sing with the troubled teen, then you will bring the divine circle of mindfulness to its completion—to the benefit of both of you.

Mindfulness for Better Mental Health

A 2021 study found that mindfulness courses, like many other mental health practices, can reduce anxiety, depression and stress and increase mental wellbeing within most non-clinical settings. Many people who practice mindfulness report feeling calmer and more balanced in their emotions, but how does mindfulness actually help improve mental health?

One way that mindfulness can help is that it reduces rumination. Rumination is the process of continually thinking about the same thoughts. Often, teens who experience anxiety feel stuck in a rumination loop, where they are fixed on negative or “what if” thoughts. Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. In one study, researchers asked 20 novice meditators to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. After the retreat, the meditation group had significantly higher self-reported mindfulness and a decreased negative affect compared with a control group. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less rumination. 

Another benefit of mindfulness is stress reduction. Researchers believe the benefits of mindfulness are related to its ability to dial down the body’s response to stress. When we are chronically stressed, our response system becomes taxed and burnt out. Mindfulness can teach practitioners to regulate their body’s response to stress. Psychological scientists have found that mindfulness influences two different stress pathways in the brain, changing brain structures and activity in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation. Scientists are also beginning to understand which elements of mindfulness are responsible for its beneficial effects.

There is also promising research that mindfulness can help alleviate depression. Studies have suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is just as effective as medication in preventing depression relapse among adults with a history of recurrent depression, and in reducing depressive symptoms among those with active depression. Practicing mindfulness can also help teens cultivate a sense of self-compassion. Oftentimes, teens experiencing depression may feel like they are failing or that there is something wrong with them because they feel that they can’t engage in the world or be successful the way they believe their peers are. These depressive thoughts can worsen their symptoms, but mindfulness encourages teens to be kinder to themselves. Self-compassion helps teens practice self-kindness, recognize their common humanity with others instead of feeling isolated and ashamed. It encourages teens to not fixate on their perceived faults. Mindfulness can also help teens manage their inner critic and lessen its impact, which may help alleviate some of their depressive symptoms. 

Reacting Vs. Responding

Also related to stress and anxiety, mindfulness teaches students to respond versus react to a situation. Our reaction is often that first impulse. For example, if a teen has a negative stress response, like an emotional or physical outburst that is their reaction. This is why something that seems small to parents, like requesting your teen put their phone away for dinner, can elicit a huge or angry reaction. It could be that your teen is worried that they will be left out if they don’t respond right away to their friends. This worry triggers their stress response and subsequent outburst. They may not have the words in the moment to communicate their worries and instead scream about how they hate you and slam doors. Mindfulness teaches teens to acknowledge and identify their emotions as they come up. If they are practicing meditations, thoughts may come up like “this is boring” or “my back is uncomfortable”, and all those thoughts are acceptable. Mindfulness is not about judging their thoughts or emotions, it is about noticing them and then taking a step back before they respond. 

Teens who practice mindfulness are training their brains to respond instead of reacting in a stressful situation. When they are asked to put away their phone, thoughts may arise like “That’s not fair!” Or “I’m going to be left out!”. But now teens realize that not only are those feelings valid, but they also have the power to choose how they respond to those feelings. By practicing deep breathing, they may take a breath, calm themselves, and then be able to better communicate to you. What started as “I hate you!” can then turn into, “I’m worried I’ll be left out because my friends are making weekend plans right now. Could I have five more minutes to wrap this up?”. They are learning how to acknowledge and communicate their feelings through slowing down and paying attention. 

Solstice East Can Help

At Solstice East, we help our students and families learn to regulate their emotions through the modalities of mindfulness, relationship therapy, equine-assisted psychotherapy, adventure therapies and art-based therapies. We emphasize this teaching by training every member of our staff how to self-regulate, and how to help a teenager develop her own self-regulation skills. We provide our team with opportunities to implement regulation skills in real-life settings to increase their ability to provide attunement, safety and predictability while in-relationship with your daughter.

We believe that a holistic approach is an effective way to help young women truly heal from trauma.  Instead of focusing on one specific “problem” area or issue, we treat the entire person (mind, body and spirit). It is our belief that cutting-edge and evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and gender-specific addictions treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process.

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff. For more information please call (855) 672-7058.

comfort tv shows

How Your Favorite Netflix Shows Can Help With Seasonal Depression

How Your Favorite Netflix Shows Can Help With Seasonal Depression 1930 2560 se_admin

It happens every year, but we sometimes still get caught off guard. The shortened days. The colder temperatures. Winter can cause many of us to want to go into hibernation mode and the lack of sunlight can lead to seasonal depression. So, what do we do when our mental health is suffering and the weather makes it feel worse? This is where the idea of “comfort tv” can be helpful.

What is “Comfort TV”?

Comfort TV are the beloved shows that you’ve watched over, and over again. For some, the shows are comforting because they feel the nostalgia of enjoying the same episodes they watched in childhood. It can bring up happy memories of family nights laughing over an episode of “Friends”. For other people who are experiencing anxiety or stress, comfort TV may be enjoying a show that they’ve watched many times and they know the outcome. There is a comfort in knowing how things will end. They know when to fast forward through a sad section, or not to worry because at the end of the episode the criminal will be caught. 

How Your Favorite Shows Can Help

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. Many people with SAD begin experiencing symptoms and continue into the winter months, draining their energy and making them feel moody. In the winter, reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin which can trigger depression. Without sun, melatonin levels can decrease as well which can disrupt sleep patterns and mood. Even knowing that these feelings will usually change once the seasons change, it is important to address the symptoms. One way may be finding healthy coping mechanisms, such as comfort TV. 

Watching familiar TV shows can be a healthy form of escapism. When you’re feeling stuck or down about your life, turning on a beloved show can remind you that there is more out there in the world. If you’re feeling isolated, watching comfort TV may even help you feel connected to the characters you’ve watched again and again. 

Our Five Comfort TV Shows

If you’re looking for some comfort TV to get you through the winter months, here are a few suggestions:

  1. The Great British Bake-Off: Lovely British people baking and cheering each other on during a baking competition. The winner gets a cake plate, which is completely endearing in the age of million-dollar game show prizes. 
  2. Gilmore Girls: The quirky mother/daughter duo in a charming small town won us over with their witty banter and family love. 
  3. The Good Place: A fun comedy with heart where the main characters explore morality and learn what being a “good person” is all about.
  4. The Office: With eight years of episodes and an endearing office full of characters, The Office is a comfort TV classic.
  5. Queer Eye: This uplifting Netflix reboot follows everyday people through a journey of self-exploration surrounded by the Fab 5 who cheer for them every step of the way. 

Solstice East for Adolescent Girls

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

We have a strong emphasis on family therapy, nutrition, and physical fitness. We also offer accredited, engaging academics, addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services. At Solstice, we help set the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve. For more information please call (828) 759-5909.

Depression Treatment Centers San Antonio

Depression Treatment Centers San Antonio Texas Teens Travel To Attend

Depression Treatment Centers San Antonio Texas Teens Travel To Attend 2560 1707 Admin_SE

Are you seeking depression treatment centers San Antonio? Just like any other parents, San Antonio parents want their teens to live a happy, successful life. Unfortunately, one of the mental health issues that can disrupt that path of happiness in teens is depression. Some parents are willing to travel outside their State to find the most appropriate treatment program for their youth. Solstice East, North Carolina is a depression treatment center for girls that attracts families from all over the country.

Parents can be of great help to their struggling teens in dealing with depression. Solstice East, North Carolina provides resources designed to empower parents to help struggling teens. Advanced treatment modalities used in clinical treatment centers for depression help teens gain the skills and social support they need to combat the growing depression cases. Solstice East is a program with a mission to make a difference for residents of all areas and are especially here to help the youth of San Antonio, Texas.

Depression Treatment Centers San Antonio

Depression Treatment Centers San Antonio

Depression: Quick Statistics at a Glance

Your teen is not alone. Depression takes a serious toll, and unfortunately, it sometimes ends in premature death.

  • Since 1999, there has been a 33% rise in suicides in the United States. According to Texas Public Radio, these figures are at the highest level since World War II.
  • Suicide is the 2nd highest cause of death for those between 10 to 34 years old, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • Over 7% of adults experienced at least one major depressive event last year. These major depressive events are usually associated with either trauma, life circumstances, brain changes, other medical conditions, or drug and alcohol abuse.
  • In San Antonio Texas, there are over 1000 monthly Google search queries for each of the terms, “depression”, “signs of depression”, and “antidepressants”.
Depression Treatment

Depression Treatment Center

Clinical Adventure Therapy for Teen Depression Treatment

Often, the first idea of helping to treat depression may come in the form of medication. However, clinical mental health experts have introduced a balanced treatment program that includes therapy. The program is beneficial to teens living in San Antonio, TX. In other words, medication alone isn’t the answer. Solstice East is a successful treatment center that incorporates many physical adventure activities into their therapies. What new activities can your adolescent engage in to find a way to self-care and a better life? Perhaps we can incorporate more physical adventure into our lives too.

Rock Climbing is a great way to gain confidence. Mental problems are often compared to climbing an emotional mountain to get over the troubles in our lives. Your daughter will be able to find the physical strength to climb a mountain and to conquer it. She will be taught to rise again every time she falls. This reinforces in them a sense of inner strength and perseverance.

Mountain Biking is fun and enthralling. It requires dedication to a chosen path and perseverance. Similar to life, your youth will experience moments of difficulty and joy. They will  push themselves up difficult hills and will then enjoy breathtaking moments as they coast down hills surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

Canoeing is a simple and profound activity that helps young girls understand their responsibility in propelling themselves toward their desired futures. This experience provides an abundance of life metaphors: complete with a canoe to keep them above the water, instructors to point out areas of trouble, and boundaries in which they want to stay. In addition they have another person or people in the canoe to help motivate them along their journey.

Swimming is a simple yet profound activity that instills confidence. Water is often representative of life. Your teen will learn to keep their head above water and breath and work with the resistance the water offers. They will learn that calming themselves, as opposed to over-reacting in fear, is helpful in water as it is in all situations. They will learn that they can use water, like life, as a medium to arrive at desired destinations.

Hiking is an opportunity to learn to love and respect nature.  This can help people reconnect with what they value in life. Solstice East, in North Carolina, gives many opportunities for hikes in the woods. A guide will show your daughter the way and friends will be there to walk with her. She will be able to see the beauty of life and the balance of nature. She will realize that all things on this planet are for her ultimate good.

Camping can help give your youth a sense of freedom and adventure. It can give perspective as to how happiness can be found in abundance even and especially when we live simply. It’s an opportunity to learn and develop useful skills while all your senses enjoy the abundance and beauty of the outdoors. Solstice East allows family members to join in on these trips and put into practice what they have learned in family therapy.

We are here for your teens in San Antonio, Texas.  We can walk with them and help them begin on their path toward recovery and happiness. Please call and contact us today if you’re interested.

Teen Depression Treatment Centers

Teen Depression Treatment

Depression. (2017, August). In National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression

Hendrick, Z. (2019, September 12). Teen suicide rates in Bexar County continue to rise. In NEWS4SA. Retrieved from https://news4sanantonio.com/news/local/teen-suicide-rates-in-bexar-county-continue-to-rise

Johnson, K., Petrie, B., & Williams, D. (2019, June 25). Suicide: An Epidemic And An Enigma. In Texas Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.tpr.org/post/suicide-epidemic-and-enigma


Depression Treatment Centers Massachusetts Residents Travel to and Why

Depression Treatment Centers Massachusetts Residents Travel to and Why 2560 1707 Admin_SE

Are you searching for depression treatment centers in Massachusetts? If your teen is having mental health issues, you may want to seek professional help. But not just any help, you want the best. This is why Solstice East, a world class residential treatment program in North Carolina receives new students from across the country. Seeking assistance for mental issues, especially depression, is just as important as seeking medical help for physical issues. When it comes to obtaining the best help, families are willing to research what makes Solstice East the go-to program for healing.

Depression Treatment Centers Massachusetts

Depression Treatment Centers Massachusetts

You’ve Likely Already Explored Local Resources

Families who visit Solstice East likely visit our campus as a result of professional recommendation or from online research. Looking into depression treatment centers may be the result of having exhausted local immediately available resources or it might come as the professional advice of those who understand the outstanding outcomes of our students.

While initially investigating how to best help your teen you may have already made contact with the many people who interact with your teen the most. These are often the people in your child’s immediate circle of influence who may have noticed changes or signs of depression in your child and who have worked with you to help them with their depression. Examples of people who might be members of your child’s support group include

  • Parents or legal guardians
  • Siblings
  • Teachers
  • School counselors
  • Trusted friends
  • Guidance counselors
  • Religious leaders
  • Coaches or extracurricular teachers

While learning about your teen’s depression you likely have invested time and effort into seeking an understanding of your teen’s perspective and their inner difficulties. Those whom your teen interacts with can sometimes offer additional insight into your loved one’s depression. They might have shared with you what they have observed regarding changes in your child or their circumstances. As you and others have sought resolution to your child’s depression please know that you, your immediate support group, and your child are not alone.

Our North Carolina facility, Solstice East, caters to youth and teen families from all over the country including Massachusetts. We have helped thousands of families who have encountered similar struggles and we know how to guide you and your teenager through these challenges.

Services: What Options and Programs Are Open

There are many options available to assist your child with their depression. Your medical professional may have already suggested many of these possibilities to help your teen:

  1. Extracurricular Programs – Some programs are provided through school, religious organizations, community centers, or even online platforms. These programs support teens to help them try something new and gain confidence in a new hobby.
  2. Support Centers – These are physical locations where teens go for additional aid including residential treatment centers. Solstice East, located in North Carolina, is one of the most successful residential treatment centers, and is eager to help the teens of Massachusetts. At Solstice East our youth live on campus and get around the clock assistance, interaction, and intervention through our many therapy programs.
  3. Therapy – As with knowing what options are available, talking to a licensed professional via therapy is an effective method of guiding them in the privacy of an office or at home, to talk through and recognize the root cause of their disorder or issue.
  4. Medication – Sometimes a chemical imbalance in the brain is the issue at hand and seeking professional assistance and medication can help.
  5. Lifestyle Changes – Simple changes in daily routines can improve emotional well-being. Here are some ideas that you or your loved ones can incorporate into your lives.
    1. Get enough sleep, eat healthily, and take vitamins once a day
    2. Practice mindfulness or meditation
    3. Start a new exercise routine and exercise on a regular basis
    4. Join a club, group, or organization that shares your beliefs and values
    5. Give service to someone in need
    6. Discontinue friendships that bring you down
    7. Learn a new skill
Depression Treatment Centers Massachusetts

Depression Treatment Centers Massachusetts

Support, Support, Support

It may be helpful to find a support group and people who understand what you or your loved one are going through. Support groups create environments of trust where others understand what you or your loved one are experiencing so that your teen can share their feelings and thoughts without fear of judgment. At Solstice East, we are here to help and support you and your loved one no matter what you’re going through. We are eager to help our teens from Massachusetts.

Here are just some examples of how to change potentially negative-sounding phrases to more positive ones. By no means is this an exhaustive list or exactly how you should talk, but it may assist by providing you with some ideas:

What Not To Say                                                       Try This Instead

How can you think like that?                                      Tell me how you came to that thought

Do I not do enough to make you happy?                  What is something that I can do to help?

Why are you sad all of a sudden?                               When did you start feeling this way?

You have so much! What more could you want?    Do you feel like there is something missing?

You’re just saying that. Don’t be crazy!                     What was the purpose of saying that?

You don’t mean that!                                                     Can you please explain what you mean?

Why did you choose to wear that?                             That new style looks good on you

Having the right support, services, and help can improve the life and happiness of anyone. If you are from Massachusetts and are looking for residential treatment centers, we are here for you. Be sure to give Solstice East a call at 828-414-2980.

Lohmann, R. C. (2019, April 22). What’s Driving the Rise in Teen Depression?. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2019-04-22/teen-depression-is-on-the-rise

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC 1950 2560 Admin_SE

Are you looking for treatment centers for depression in NC? Having a depressed teenager can be a struggle. It’s easy to wonder why your teenager would suffer from this even though you’ve been able to provide a loving home, nourishing meals, a good education, and loving support. However, there are many reasons why teens become depressed. The following are some of the most common causes of depression in teenagers:

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC

What Can Cause Depression and Anxiety?

Sometimes, as a parent, you would love to ask your teenager a straight question and get a straight answer. However, remember that your teen is still in their early stages of development. Your teenager is still learning about the world around them. No matter the age, we are all still learning how to recognize, interpret, and respond to our own thoughts, feelings, and actions, but teenagers have yet to gather the experiential data that us adults have, and they have the added challenge of dealing with their body’s hormonal changes. Add into the mix the teenage tendency to be overly worried about how they “should” act or feel and you get the perfect potential storm for mental health problems and anxiety. Although not an exhaustive list, here are the top ten life-changing events that cause unnecessary stress which can lead to depression and the impact score of each, according to Dartmouth College:

  1. Divorce can subject teenagers to uncertainty and increase stress. For example a child may wonder if they are still lovable if their parents decide they no longer love each other.
  2. Similar to the divorce, when a teen’s parents separate, it can change their access to one or both parents.  This can cause emotional trauma in the teen and create feelings of worthlessness as they may question if they are the reason their parents separated.
  3. The death of a close family member can be difficult for a teenager because that person may be one of their main sources of love and/or support.
  4. Personal injury or illness can affect an adolescent if they usually enjoy being on a sports team or other type of group that requires them to be healthy to participate. Being injured could lead to missing important events and losing their sense of identity as a group member.
  5. A change in health of a family member can create uncertainty in a teenager. Also, the amount of time providing emotional or physical support for that person while trying to balance school and friends can be tough.
  6. Gaining a new family member could cause issues in some teens.  The new family member may be the new center of attention. Some teens could become angry or withdraw into themselves if they don’t receive the attention they feel they need.
  7. Change in the family’s financial state can affect a teenager’s mental state. Changes that influence where they live or go to school and what activities they’re able to do may change their own self image and may change how their friends view them.
  8. The death of a close friend may open a teen’s understanding of the fragility of life and their own mortality.  This type of loss could potentially influence a teen’s sense of security and lead to not wanting to contact friends to prevent feeling this loss again.
  9. Many teens go through a period of depression at the beginning or ending of a school period. This is normal because these are significant events and usually not something to worry about as it is typically short-lived.

If the teen is struggling with a few or more of the above changes simultaneously, the likeliness of a depressive illness in their near future is about 80%.

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC

Treatment Centers for Depression in NC

Does Electronics Cause Depression or Anxiety?

This has been an area of debate, especially since technology has had a huge impact on the daily lives of our teens.  Our teens have increased screen time for educational and recreational use and many people worry about the effects of things such as games and social media.

Social media, in particular, seems to have gotten a lot of attention and criticism for the mental health of teenagers. In fact, older studies claimed that increased time on social media would cause your teenager’s depression to increase.

However, that is not the case. A professor at BYU did an eight-year study monitoring teenagers’ time on social media and found no connection to increased depression or anxiety in teens that spend more time on social media. He found that what matters most is not how much is being viewed, but how your teen is using it.

What he learned is that it’s more important to know exactly what type of sites a teen is visiting and who they are communicating with.

Teen Treatment Centers for Depression

Teen Treatment Centers for Depression

What is a Center for Depression?

Depressed teenage girls in North Carolina have an exciting opportunity for treatment by a team of professionals at a state-of-the-art residential facility nestled on a 25-acre campus in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. If you are a parent who isn’t familiar with this type of center, you’re not alone.

Our treatment center is a place where young women, aged 14–17, can go to receive treatment from professional staff members and get help for depression. Our facility is licensed by the Department of Human Services and accredited by AdvancED.

Solstice East is a place where your child receives a fullness of support. Our licensed experts utilize a variety of relationship-based therapeutic programs. We employ innovators who use multi-faceted approaches to trauma, and clinical professionals treating a variety of issues. Your daughter could live with other girls who understand them and who are also experiencing similar types of depression, anxiety, or other issue. Solstice East gives your child an opportunity to create and share experiences with others and learn together how to overcome challenges and create a wonderful life.

We invite you to contact one of our admissions staff members to ask questions and request our brochure.

Buckley, C. (2019, October 20). Does time spent on social media impact mental health? New BYU study shows screen time isn’t the problem. In BYU University Communications News. Retrieved from https://news.byu.edu/intellect/does-time-spent-on-social-media-impact-mental-health-new-byu-study-shows-screen-time-isnt-the-problem

Dartmouth College. (n.d.). Life Change Index Scale (The Stress Test) . Retrieved from https://www.dartmouth.edu/eap/library/lifechangestresstest.pdf

bipolar disorder and depression

Differences Between Bipolar Disorder and Depression

Differences Between Bipolar Disorder and Depression 2560 1709 se_admin

Bipolar disorder is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed disorders in teens, which is why many professionals caution early diagnosis and medication, unlike most other mental health struggles. Knowing the difference between bipolar disorder, depression, and teen mood swings is important in determining what treatment options will be effective for your child. 

What is Depression in Teens?

Depression is one of the most commonly reported mental health struggle among teens. Depression is more than just periods of sadness or a discouraged response to stressful events. While everyone experiences sadness to some degree, Major Depressive Disorder refers to periods of intense sadness and hopelessness about the future that lasts at least two weeks. 

Depression is also characterized by:

  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Irritability or impulsivity
  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, involves cycling between high highs and low lows–often unpredictably. Many people with bipolar are diagnosed after experiencing a depressive episode. In contrast, manic symptoms are marked by high energy and impulsivity which are more likely to be identified as behavior problems. 

Often, people with bipolar disorder are first diagnosed with depression if they consult a professional during a depressive episode. But, sometimes, the line between mania and depression isn’t as clear cut as one would think. Teens who are in the middle of the depressive part of the bipolar cycle may also display features of mania, like racing thoughts or risk-taking, that can lead to overlooking signs of depression.

Mania is characterized by: 

  • Extremely high energy
  • Racing thoughts and/or rambling speech
  • Grandiose ideas  
  • Inflated sense of self-esteem
  • Reduced need for sleep without fatigue
  • Restlessness and being easily distracted
  • Increased pursuit of risky and impulsive behaviors, such as sexuality, spending, substance use

Are All Mood Swings Bipolar Disorder?

A common misperception is that people with depression are expected to be consistently depressed for a long period of time and that anyone whose level of depression fluctuates must be bipolar. Typically, depression occurs in episodes as well, with the most intense symptoms present for between 2 weeks to a few months. In between episodes, it may be hard to notice warning signs that they might experience another depressive episode.

Unlike people with major depressive disorder, teens with bipolar disorder struggle to maintain to a stable “baseline” between the mood swings they experience. While many people assume that mania is more “enjoyable” than feelings of depression, mania is not just periods of happiness or stability between periods of deep sadness and low energy.

That being said, not all mood swings are a sign of mental health struggles. Adolescents are known for experiencing a roller coaster of emotions, largely due to hormonal changes and their lack of skills to regulate their emotions. As teens have often been protected from having to directly cope with stressful life events during childhood, they may become more easily overwhelmed by normal teen issues. 

Why is the difference between depression and bipolar disorder in teens important?

Looking at the overlap in symptoms between depression, bipolar disorder, and mood swings rather than focusing on the label of a diagnosis helps clinicians come up with a well-rounded treatment plan to address the bigger picture of your child’s wellbeing. 

By specializing in working with this age group, Solstice East uses developmentally-appropriate therapeutic techniques, acknowledging that the rational side of teen’s brains is developing rapidly. This can lead to mood swings, difficulty describing how exactly they are feeling, and trouble self-regulating–all of which could lead to a clinical diagnosis. Teens are at a critical stage in their lives, where adopting healthier coping mechanisms can help break the pattern of getting overwhelmed by emotions and swinging from one extreme to the next. 

While our residential program emphasizes the power of recreation activities and positive relationships in mood regulation, our qualified psychiatrist monitors medication for teens who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, like depression or bipolar disorder. We believe it is important to clarify diagnoses in order to know the best way to empower your child to anticipate mood changes and manage their emotions in a healthier way.

Solstice East Can Help 

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with behavior and emotional issues such as those that can stem from peer-relationship struggles. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

Contact us at (855) 672-7058

boredom among teens

Boredom Among Teens Affects Rates of Depression

Boredom Among Teens Affects Rates of Depression 1706 2560 se_admin

Although new technologies are released every year, an analysis of the popular Monitoring the Future survey found that boredom among teens is rising year after year for high schoolers. In every grade, girls’ boredom levels steeper rises than boys, rising an average of 2 percent every year. Everybody experiences boredom from time to time, but many people don’t realize it may be associated with depressive symptoms and risky behaviors, such as substance use, particularly among teens.

Why Are Teens So Bored?

With the rise of social media, teens are filling more of their leisure time with technology than structured social activities. While they are constantly refreshing their feed for new posts, the process of infinite scrolling can become boring. Girls are particularly vulnerable to comparing themselves to others online and feeling that they don’t measure up. As more teens are turning to socialize online, they are more likely to feel disconnected in their offline lives. 

Possible reasons for increases in boredom may include:

  • Dissatisfaction with how their time is spent
  • Increased digital media use
  • Less physical activity
  • Spending more time alone
  • Rising levels of depression

Trouble Coping with Boredom

“Adolescence is a time of change and growth,” said Elizabeth Weybright, researcher of adolescent development at Washington State University. “Teens want more independence, but may not have as much autonomy as they’d like in their school and home life. That creates situations where they’re prone to boredom, and may have a hard time coping with being bored.”

Boredom is a much more difficult experience for adolescents who typically have less life experience, coping skills, and healthy relationships than adults do to take advantage of their free time. Boredom tends to increase during early adolescence when teens are disconnected from both their childhood interests and adult responsibilities. 

Teens who get bored easily during their free time often lose interest in activities, have difficulty focusing on one task at a time, feel directionless, and unmotivated. Especially on weekends and vacations from school, teens struggle with finding structured activities and environments to keep them organized and distract them from feelings of depression and loneliness.

Recreation Activities for Depressed Teens

According to a study conducted by the University of Bologna, teens who are more prone to boredom have fewer hobbies, are less likely to engage in activities like sports, use technology more, and binge drink more often. 

It may seem obvious that finding healthy social activities that they enjoy is essential for helping depressed teens fight boredom. However, teens with depression often struggle with a lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy, social anxiety around group activities, and a lack of motivation to try new things. Residential treatment centers offer a variety of recreation activities in a structured therapeutic environment to encourage teen girls to reflect on the challenges they face and find healthier ways to cope with feelings of boredom and depression.

Solstice East is experientially focused and integrates daily workouts, weekly adventure activities, and off campus-service opportunities that help students develop meaningful relationships and personal goals. Adventure therapy serves as a powerful addition to talk therapy for depressed teens.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and addictive behaviors. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

Contact us at  828-484-9946 to learn more about experiential therapy.

bullying and substance use

Bullying May Lead to Substance Use In Teen Girls

Bullying May Lead to Substance Use In Teen Girls 2373 3560 se_admin

Bullying is a serious problem among teen girls. Not only in how it affects their view of relationships, but as a risk factor for loneliness, depression, suicide, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Bullying can completely warp one’s sense of self and safety, which can lead to long-lasting emotional consequences, long after incidents of bullying stop. Girls who have been victims of bullying are more likely to turn to substance use to cope with negative emotions.

  • Bullying is most prevalent in middle school, while substance use is more common among high school students
  • Students who are involved in bullying are more likely than those not involved to try alcohol or other drugs
  • Adverse childhood experiences are associated with developing unhealthy coping mechanisms later on in life

Depression is the Missing Link

A study conducted by the University of Washington suggests that bullying-related depression among adolescent girls may lead to increased substance use. A key finding of this study was gender differences in the role substance use plays in coping with depression and victimization. Bullying was linked to substance use in both males and females, but depression was only associated with victimization, not substance use in boys. 

This suggests that bullying takes a more significant toll in girls’ emotional wellbeing and can lead to destructive coping mechanisms. This is significant as girls are usually expected to internalize emotional issues while it is assumed boys are more likely to act out.

Another reason contributing to gender differences is that girls place more value on social relationships, therefore the effects of bullying tend to be more devastating. Girls are also more vulnerable to cyberbullying due to higher levels of social media use, which means that bullying may not stop when the school day ends. 

Reasons Why Teens Turn to Substance Use


  • While boys often turn to substance use as a social activity, girls are more likely to turn to substance use to cope with emotional issues. 
  • Boys may be more likely to experience negative consequences due to risky behaviors associated with substance use, but girls are more likely to develop an emotional attachment to substances that contributes to addictive patterns. 
  • They learn quickly that they can change the way they feel by using substances through numbing emotional pain, increasing feelings of pleasure, or reducing feelings of anxiety. 
  • Sensation-seeking teens seek out new experiences to fight boredom and chase thrills.



How Bullying Plays a Role in Substance Use

Teens who have been a victim of bullying often feel socially isolated and desperate for connection. Bullying and rejection sends them messages that they are worthless and unlovable and these narratives can be hard to challenge. This can interfere with their motivation to connect with others, their ability to feel comfortable being themselves, and their desire to escape from potentially uncomfortable social situations. 

Over time, substance use can have a similar effect, but before problems compound, teens learn that substances can meet this need for connection in a variety of ways. 

  • Many substances increase levels of the “love hormone,” oxytocin, which reduces social anxiety and increases empathy for others. 
  • Drinking and smoking is usually a social activity for teenagers, which helps isolated teens feel more included.
  • As substance use is often a matter of accessibility, teens develop relationships with other substance-using peers in order to find drugs and alcohol, even if those relationships lack emotional intimacy.
  • While “peer pressure” is considered a myth regarding substance use, it is true that many teens think using substances will make them look cool or help them fit in. In some cases, they believe it will help them stand out less.
  • Due to behavioral inhibition and numbing negative emotions, teens experience less social anxiety that have dominated their past social experiences.

A Holistic Approach to Finding Authentic Connection

Just as none of these issues exist in isolation, addressing these complex issues requires a multidimensional approach. Residential programs provide a supportive healing environment for girls struggling with relationship issues and destructive behaviors to build authentic connections with others. Removed from negative influences in their home environment, girls have the opportunity to focus on themselves and explore their strengths.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors, like substance use, that often emerge as a way to cope with the effects of bullying and trauma. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives.

Contact us at (855) 672-7058. We can help your family today!


teenage daughter is depressed

What to Do When Your Teenage Daughter is Depressed and Refusing Help

What to Do When Your Teenage Daughter is Depressed and Refusing Help 3957 5936 se_admin

The teenage years can bring about new defiance in your teen. If your teenage daughter is depressed and refusing help, this can make things challenging for you as a parent. You want them to feel better, but without help, that is nearly impossible. First you should understand that asking for help or seeking help for that matter is not always easy. Your teen may refuse help for the following reasons:

  • They feel ashamed of their depression 
  • They do not want to talk about the things that hurt them
  • The idea of confiding in a stranger scares them 
  • Teens may feel like no one will understand

One of these reasons could be why your daughter does not want to seek professional help. If you try to force her to go, you are only risking creating resentment from her towards you. She may feel like you are not on your side and you are being completely inconsiderate of her own boundaries. However, we know this is not the case. You want your daughter to be happy and healthy. And getting help is the solution to getting her on her way. 

Starter Tips: If Your Teenage Daughter Is Depressed

VeryWellMind has compiled a list of suggestions for parents on how to confront a teen who refuses to get help. Consider implementing these steps at home. What works for one teen may not work for another. However, this is a good starting point. Here are some tips on how you can effectively encourage your daughter to seek help:

  • Talk to her about the symptoms you’re seeing that lead you to believe she has depression.
  • Discuss how having untreated depression can negatively impact her.
  • Make a compassionate deal. For example, tell her that if she’ll agree to an evaluation with a therapist specializing in teen depression, you’ll treat her to a hot fudge sundae or another reward that motivates her.
  • Attempt to empathize with the pain she is feeling. For example, discuss that while you can’t know how she’s feeling, outwardly she seems unhappy.
  • Reassure her that being depressed is a common medical condition that she can’t control and should never feel ashamed about.
  • Write down and give her a list of the positive qualities you know she has that will help her to heal.
  • Openly acknowledge that getting help takes courage.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with behavior and emotional issues such as those that can stem from peer-relationship struggles. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

Contact us @ 828-484-9946


sadness in teens

Why Teens Avoid the D Word: Sadness in Teens

Why Teens Avoid the D Word: Sadness in Teens 3888 2592 se_admin

Teens with depression may feel uncomfortable verbalizing how they feel. They may feel embarrassed or may not want to seem vulnerable. Some things to consider include why it may be hard for your teen to say they are depressed instead of grumpy or sad. Sadness in teens is perceived differently by every individual. The consequences of saying “I’m depressed” may be too overwhelming for a teen which is why the resort to “I’m grumpy”. As a parent it is important that you listen to understand and learn about some reasons why your teen may choose a different word. You are there biggest advocate and it is critical that they feel loved and supported by you. Talk to your teen. Find out what they are uncomfortable with. Ask them how you can help.

Some reasons why your teen may avoid saying that they are depressed include the following.

Fear of the Follow-up Response

Often times, people naturally respond “why?” when someone says they are depressed. This can make teens feel cornered. And like the way they feel is wrong. The reality is that no one chooses to be/feel depressed therefore they should not feel like they have to explain themselves. Often times, people group those struggling with depression with everyone else. There typically is an explanation for emotions. However, those dealing with depression may not have an answer. And that’s okay.

The Social Aspect

It’s normal to do whatever we deem as socially acceptable. Quite frankly saying “I’m grumpy” feels a lot more socially acceptable than “I’m depressed”. When one says their grumpy, people tend to find that relatable. Like we’ve all been grumpy before. However, when one admits to being depressed everything can get awkward. Did you ever consider this may be why your teen doesn’t want to throw that word around? Because it makes them feel like an outcast.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with behavior and emotional issues such as those that can stem from peer-relationship struggles. This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

Contact us at (855) 672-7058