• Residential Treatment Center for Teens 14-17

Mental Issues

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.

Identifying Unhealthy Relationships and Creating Healthy Ones

Identifying Unhealthy Relationships and Creating Healthy Ones 150 150 se_admin

Creating new relationships is an important part of development in adolescence. This is a time when teens are beginning to form their own interests and identities outside of their family unit. It can be exciting, but it also comes with a new set of challenges. As teens begin to create new relationships, both with friends and romantic, they also run the risk of relationships changing or even ending. For teens who have not experienced a relationship that ends, it can feel confusing or overwhelming to figure out what comes next. When a friendship or relationship with a significant other turns bad, it can be devastating to many teens.

Identifying Unhealthy Relationships

Most adults remember their first crust or their first school dance. There is a spark of excitement around new relationships, especially during our formative years. And because everything is new and thrilling, it can be easy for teens to get swept up in a relationship. Some teen girls may find themselves forgoing their friendships to spend all their time in their new relationship. They may begin to eschew hobbies or interests they previously enjoyed, instead of trying to mold their interests to fit those of their romantic interest. 

A relationship becomes unhealthy when it involves mean, disrespectful, controlling, or abusive behavior. Some teens who have grown up in an environment where fighting or abuse was common may believe that this behavior is normal. Teens in unhealthy relationships may make excuses or misinterpret bad behavior. If a boyfriend or girlfriend is acting jealous or possessive, they may think “Oh, that just means they really like me.”. It is important for teens to understand the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and ask themselves the following questions:

Does my boyfriend/girlfriend:

  • get angry when I don’t drop everything for him or her?
  • criticize the way I look or dress, and say I’ll never be able to find anyone else who would date me?
  • keep me from seeing friends or from talking to other guys or girls?
  • want me to quit an activity, even though I love it?
  • ever raise a hand when angry, like he or she is about to hit me?
  • try to force me to go further sexually than I want to?

Encouraging Healthy Relationships

Understanding the traits of an unhealthy relationship is helpful, but it is equally as important to understand how to create a healthy relationship as well. Here are some qualities to think about for a healthy relationship:

  • Mutual respect. Respect is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Does your partner respect your boundaries? Do they listen when you say “no” or you tell them that you are uncomfortable? Respect goes both ways and means that each person understands and values the other person’s boundaries.
  • Trust. Jealousy is a natural emotion, especially for young adults who are experiencing a relationship for the first time. But it is important to pay attention to how you or your partner react when those feelings of jealousy arise. Can they recognize that emotion without being controlled by it? Do they trust that you are committed to their relationship? Without trust, you cannot have a healthy relationship.
  • Honesty. Without honesty, there can be no trust in a relationship. Can you and your partner talk openly about your concerns or needs? Do they follow through when they tell you they’ll meet you for dinner or text you later? If your partner is consistently being honest with you, it can allow you to feel more confident in the relationship. 
  • Support. It may be easy to celebrate together when good things happen, but is your partner still there for you when things go wrong? In a healthy relationship, your partner will be there for you to lean for support no matter what is happening. Sometimes, there is a fear that big disappointments or setbacks will be too much for others to handle. You may worry that your problems will make it too hard for them to love you. But a supportive partner will always be there for you, no matter what. 
  • Fairness/equality. Just like friendships in elementary school, relationships are about taking turns as well. Does one person always choose the activity or do you take turns doing something you’ll each enjoy? If a relationship turns into a power struggle with one person fighting to get their way all the time, the relationship quickly becomes unbalanced. 
  • Separate identities. In a new relationship, it is common for two people to want to spend every free moment together, and the time they aren’t physically together is spent texting or calling. Being able to make compromises is important in a relationship, but it should mean that you feel like you are losing yourself. You and your partner should both have other people, hobbies, and interests in your lives. Neither person should feel like they have to pretend to like something they don’t or be someone who they are not. Both people should feel comfortable developing new interests and friendships while they are in a relationship. 
  • Good communication. In any relationship, good communication is key. Can you talk to your partner about your fears or concerns? Do they listen when you talk to them about things that are important to you? Do you feel comfortable talking to them even when the topic is challenging? Does your partner give you the time and space you need to communicate your feelings?

Moving Past Old Relationships

Some relationships may end because they are unhealthy. Some other relationships end simply because they have run their course. People grow and change, and it is just a natural part of life that many relationships will end. But even understanding that it is normal and natural, it can sometimes be challenging to move past an old relationship. 

For some, losing a significant other because of a break-up can feel very painful. To go from seeing them and talking to them every day to having no contact may feel inconceivable. It may be hard to imagine your life without them. Because of that emotional pain, it is easy to see why fast-forwarding through those hard feelings may sound appealing. You may try to distract yourself by keeping busy with other things and people, ignoring those painful emotions. But the reality is that the end of a relationship usually requires a grieving period, where you can take some time to process what has happened. Rather than trying to suppress your feelings, allowing yourself to feel them is integral to the healing process. Know that you can always reach out to family and friends for emotional support as you go through the process. 

After a relationship ends can be the perfect time to reconnect with yourself. If you were in an unhealthy relationship, take some time for yourself before attempting to jump into a new relationship. Perhaps you found that you were losing your identity in your previous relationship, choosing to go along with what the other person wanted instead of thinking about your own needs. Taking a break can help you assess what those needs are. Reconnect with your own interests and passions. This could be engaging in activities you previously enjoyed such as cooking or hiking. This could also be joining a group where you will be surrounded by people who enjoy the same interests as you do. It can feel validating to be around like-minded people who appreciate your talents and passions. 

It can be easy to replay a relationship over and over again, remembering where things went wrong or wishing you had done something differently, but blaming yourself only brings about negative emotions and delays the healing process. Instead, try to see the relationship as a learning experience. Every relationship, if we let it, can teach us something about ourselves and give us greater clarity about what we need to be happy. Know that a relationship isn’t a failure just because it ended. If you grew as a person and learned something to move your life forward, then it served a purpose and was truly a success.

Remember that just because a relationship failed, that does not mean that every relationship will fail. Each relationship teaches us a little bit more about ourselves and what we are looking for in a partner. By practicing those traits of a healthy relationship and looking for a partner who also has those qualities, you can work to build more healthy relationships in the future. 

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

Solstice East supports a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth is recognized and embraced. Our approach employs the guidance of The Hero’s Journey and its themes, providing a foundation for our students to advance victoriously and grow closer to internal harmony. Solstice East students embark on a therapeutic journey that teaches inner growth and understanding and fosters positive relationships. Our groundbreaking approach allows our students to heal while compiling skills and practices to best serve them throughout their life journey.

For more information about how Solstice East handles social media addiction, please call 828-484-9946!

eating disorders in teen girls

A Dangerous Situation: Consequences of Eating Disorders in Teen Girls

A Dangerous Situation: Consequences of Eating Disorders in Teen Girls 2560 1707 se_admin

Today’s teenage girls face an onslaught of messages from peers, social media sources, and magazines depicting a sensationalized version of what the ideal female form should look like. Despite recent body positivity campaigns to help promote and celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes, surveys indicated that 33% of teen girls believed they were overweight and a staggering 56% were attempting to actively lose weight.

A new study in 2020, found that higher numbers of Generation Z adolescents in particular are engaging in dieting practices and increasing exercise to lose weight, and when asked they are likely to overestimate their own weight. Engaging in these practices to lose weight, rather than looking at diet and exercise as a way to promote health and wellbeing, can put adolescents at a much higher rate for developing an eating disorder.

The onset of eating disorders typically occur during pre-adolescence or adolescence, and this effect size is enormous for teen girls as more than 90% of diagnosed eating disorders are found in females. Given the monumental consequences, both short and long term, for developing an eating disorder, it’s imperative for parents to learn about the various types of eating disorders, their symptoms, and treatment options to get their daughters the help they need as early as possible. Research has indicated that early diagnosis and intervention are two key steps toward possible recovery.

Common causes for developing eating disorders

It’s not uncommon for teens to change their eating habits from time, as they may experiment with trying different eating styles such as veganism or vegetarianism, or they may actively try to eat healthier. These changes often pass quickly and spotting these changes in eating patterns can help you determine if there is cause for concern or if your teen is just experimenting with her diet.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint any one cause of developing an eating disorder, there are many factors that may put your daughter at risk. One of the main systemic causes thought to be associated with eating disorders are social attitudes toward body appearance, particularly unrealistic ideals of what a female body should look like. Adolescents are also more likely to be at risk for developing an eating disorder if they come from a family with a history of weight problems, physical illnesses, mental health issues, or a genetic predisposition for eating disorders. An individual history of other mental health disorders such as anxiety, OCD, and problems with substance abuse can also put teen girls at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Family dynamics and participation in athletics can also increase the risk of eating disorders if teens are surrounded by high levels of stress, poor communication, and feel pressure from unrealistically high expectations. This is particularly relevant for athletes as many sports such as ballet, running, wrestling, or gymnastics emphasize leanness in order to be a better competitor.

There are three common eating disorders diagnosed in adolescent girls and each comes with its own set of symptoms and complications. These are binge eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia.

Common eating disorders and their symptoms

Binge eating disorder is defined as regularly consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time without the ability to control the binges, and subsequently feeling extreme guilt about the binges. Due to the guilt they feel, teens may try to hide their food binges by eating in private and make unsuccessful attempts to diet in order to curb this compulsion. The following are signs your daughter may have a binge eating disorder:

– Eating large amounts of food in short periods of time
– Eating even when they are not hungry
– Eating so much they make themselves physically uncomfortable
– Sneaking or hiding food and eating in private
– Feeling they are unable to control food consumption and feeling depressed or disgusted after binging

Bulimia is also categorized by eating large quantities of food in a short period of time, but it is also marked by purging, where one follows up a binge with compensatory behavior such as vomiting, using laxatives, using enemas, fasting, or excessive exercise. Teens with bulimia will often hide their binge and purge episodes, and can be difficult to detect as they are usually close to a normal weight. Here are some warning signs to look out for:

– Eating large amounts of food with no apparent weight changes
– Hiding food or discarded food containers
– Engaging in excessive exercise
– Frequent trips to the bathroom after meal time
– Inappropriate use of laxatives or diuretics
– Frequently clogged showers or toilets

Lastly, anorexia is categorized by an obsession with thinness and presents by taking extreme measures to avoid eating and control the quantity and quality of the foods that they do eat. Individuals with anorexia also typically experience body dysmorphia in which even after they are at unhealthily low weights they still feel fat and restrict calories because they have a distorted image of their own bodies. Symptoms of anorexia include:

– A distorted view of one’s own body weight, even if they are underweight
– Restricting or discarding food in secret
– Obsessively counting calories and checking nutrition labels
– Denying feeling hungry
– Creating rituals about preparing and eating food
– Exercising compulsively
– Extreme emotional changes such as irritability, depression, and anxiety
– Missing periods or having irregular periods

Developing any of these eating disorders can put your daughter at risk for some severe short and long term negative impacts on physical, mental, and social health.

Short and long term consequences of eating disorders

Struggling with an eating disorder will have many impacts on teen girls not only while they are experiencing the disorder but for years to come as well. Disordering eating can impact a teen’s ability to function normally and participate in all her usual daily activities.

Anorexia’s immediate complications are extremely dangerous and in some cases can be fatal. During the disorder, anorexia can cause fatigue and fainting, a slow heart rate, low blood pressure, heart failure, osteoporosis, muscle loss, kidney failure, and loss of menstruation. In the long run, anorexia increases the risk for having psychological problems, such as developing anxiety and depression, lifelong physical complications such as weakened heart functioning, bone density, gastrointestinal issues, damage to the reproductive system, and organ failure, and neurological issues such as seizures, disordered thinking, and numbness in the hands or feets. Some impacts, such as severe bone loss, can be irreversible.

Bulimia can immediately cause dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, tooth decay, acid reflux, inflammation or eruption of the esophagus, and intestinal distress. Many of these consequences will dissipate once a person recovers from bulimia but there are also lingering long term health impacts due to the period of poor nutrition. These include diabetes, brittle bones, dental problems, and reproductive difficulties such as infrequent menstrual periods.

In the short term, binge eating disorder can cause emotional issues such as shame, guilt, social isolation, physical complications such as weight gain and fatigue, and mental issues such as anxiety and depression. The long term consequences of binge eating disorder are those most often associated with being overweight and include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver and gallbladder disease, and sleep apnea.

These complications, both in the short and long term, signal an importance to get your daughter treatment as soon as possible, as earlier interventions are known to have a more positive impact on the healing journey.

How to get help if your daughter is struggling with an eating disorder

There are many ways you can help prevent and treat eating disorders in your child. Families can play an essential role in preventing eating disorders by knowing the key risk factors and opening up a dialogue surrounding nutrition, body image, and health. Some key strategies in prevention are dispelling common eating disorder myths, discouraging dieting behaviors, eating meals as a family, avoiding weight talk including teasing about weight, focusing on healthy eating habits, and discussing healthy behaviors that promote well-being rather than weight maintenance.

Eating disorder treatment often takes a multidisciplinary approach and can include medical, psychiatric, individual, and family therapy along with nutritional rehabilitation aimed at restoring a healthy body weight. Because of the many health complications associated with eating disorders, it’s common for treatment to require close supervision of a medical profession, either in in-patient or out-patient treatment facilities. In some cases, medication may be administered if psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression are also present.

A variety of therapies has been found to be effective in treating eating disorders. Individual therapy will usually involve behavioral and cognitive techniques and group therapy allows individuals to find a safe place where they can open up about their struggles and relate to others experiencing similar challenges. Family therapy is also common and focuses on supporting the family in nutritional rehabilitation and how to navigate mental health issues. Nutritional therapy or counselling can provide your daughter with nutrition education, meal planning, and goal setting, which seeks to help her cultivate a healthier relationship with food for life-long change.

If your daughter is struggling with an eating disorder and the associated complications, Solstice East can provide her the all-encompassing and supportive care she needs to put her on the path toward healing.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a top-rated residential treatment center specializing in the treatment of adolescent females ages 14-17. We offer on-site equine therapy, an accredited academic schedule, and world-class therapeutic programming to treat a wide range of trauma and disorders including eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Our clients receive a unique combination of therapeutic methods stemming from traditional and holistic mental health treatments that are age and gender specific.

Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff. Our groundbreaking approach allows our students to heal while compiling skills and practices to best serve them throughout their life journey. For more information, please call (828) 759-5903.

talk therapy

Alternates to Talk Therapy for Anxious Teens

Alternates to Talk Therapy for Anxious Teens 5184 3456 se_admin

In the middle of a panic attack, teens may experience overwhelming physical sensations that make it difficult to breathe, let alone gather their thoughts and talk about their experiences. Sometimes anxious teens don’t want to talk about how they’re feeling because they worry their fears may sound irrational or their thoughts are racing so fast, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is really going on. Talk therapy is not always effective when teens are experiencing intense emotions or struggle with self-awareness. Mindfulness and movement can be valuable alternatives to talk therapy for anxious teens.

Difficulty Understanding Emotions

Many teens have a difficult time managing their emotions as it is hard to understand what they are feeling. Adolescence is a period of significant changes—physically, emotionally, socially, and neurologically. The brain develops at such a rapid pace that areas responsible for emotions are flooded with activity. When these areas are hyperactive, teens with anxiety often go into fight-or-flight mode, which makes it hard to connect with areas that help with reasoning and decision-making that are still developing.

When teens develop a larger emotional vocabulary, they are better able to articulate what they feel, explore possible causes, and accept their emotional experience for what it is. Accepting their feelings gives them more room to change how they feel than labeling these feelings as “bad” or “wrong.”

Listening to Somatic Experiences 

Often, physical sensations of anxiety are so overwhelming that teens find it easier to name butterflies in their stomach than specific fears they may be worried about. Teens with anxiety may feel sick more often, even if there doesn’t seem to be a medical explanation for their ongoing symptoms. 

Many teens believe that emotions and physical sensations are separate, but they tend to inform each other. Acknowledging this connection allows teens to try self-soothing techniques that take care of their physical body in order to manage anxious thoughts, which can be easier than identifying and challenging anxious beliefs.

The Value of Experiential Learning

Teens learn more from experience than they do from lectures. We believe that teens don’t need to talk about their feelings in order to effectively process them if they’re not ready, if they don’t want to, or if it doesn’t feel right.

Some alternates to Talk Therapy include:

  • Journaling, which allows teens to explore their anxious thoughts without sharing them with others
  • Drawing, which encourages teens to express their emotions without using words
  • Practicing grounding meditation or doing a body scan to check in with physical anxiety
  • Practicing yoga helps teens link movement with their breath
  • Neurophysiological tools, like Brainspotting and Neurofeedback
  • Equine Assisted Therapy helps address social anxiety
  • Adventure activities and other physical activities help teens build confidence

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.

borderline personality disorder

Reframing Borderline Personality Disorder as Childhood Trauma

Reframing Borderline Personality Disorder as Childhood Trauma 4500 3000 se_admin

We need to start talking about borderline personality disorder for what it really is: a complex response to trauma. While traumatic experiences don’t necessarily trigger signs of a borderline personality, up to 60% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have co-occuring PTSD. It is understood as a combination of genetic factors and early childhood experiences that influence attachment styles, coping mechanisms, and interpersonal relationships. Reframing Borderline Personality Disorder as Childhood Trauma helps psychologists understand underlying causes and frees teens from the label of fundamental problems with their personality.

Defining Characteristics of a Borderline Personality:

  • Unstable self-image
  • Instability in relationships
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Intense emotions
  • Impulsive behaviors

Environmental Factors:

One of the reasons Borderline traits are considered a personality issue is that most people diagnosed with the disorder do not respond to medication, which suggests that it is more environmental than biological in nature. While Borderline traits persist over an extended period of time, they tend to intensify when triggered by stress or traumatic events.

The relationship between traumatic events and Borderline is unclear. While Borderline may be a response to trauma, people with these traits are also more vulnerable to abuse. Between 40 and 86 percent of BPD sufferers report sexual abuse, up to 75 percent say they were emotionally abused, up to 73 percent report physical abuse, and between 17 and 25 percent experienced severe emotional neglect. Following these experiences, they have developed belief systems about their self-worth and an unstable view of relationships based on hurt and manipulation.

Deconstructing Borderline

The similarities between complex PTSD and BPD are numerous. Patients with both conditions have difficulty regulating their emotions; they experience persistent feelings of emptiness, shame, and guilt; and they have a significantly elevated risk of suicide. In some ways, some signs of borderline mimic signs of autism in relation to inconsistent social skills and reactions to an intense world.

When you take away judgments of character associated with a borderline personality, the disorder is characterized by:

  • History of developmental trauma or reactive attachment
  • Rigid processing
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Slower nonverbal processing

Problems with a Personality Disorder Label

Labeling people with BPD as having a personality disorder can escalate their poor self-esteem. “Personality disorder” translates in many people’s minds as a personality flaw, and this can lead to or intensify an ingrained sense of worthlessness and self-loathing.

This means people with BPD may view themselves more negatively, but can also lead other people – including those closest to them – to do the same. 

Taking a Trauma-Informed Approach

When reframed as childhood trauma, psychologists are better prepared to address underlying issues and come up with concrete solutions. The “personality label” reinforces learned helplessness and treatment-resistance. Using a trauma-informed approach, psychologists look at teens’ individual strengths and needs to find a way to connect with them. The goal of treatment becomes learning how to establish healthy relationships based on personal values and fears.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18 struggling with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, trauma, and addictive behaviors. Many of the girls we work with have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and have internalized hopelessness in relationships based on this diagnosis. Our relationship-based program focuses on helping young women heal unhealthy 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 to learn more about borderline personality disorder. We can help your family today!

Avoiding Anxiety in Teens

Avoiding Anxiety in Teens 150 150 se_admin

With anxiety being one of the most common mental health issues found in the general population, avoiding anxiety in teens can be challenging. While medication, therapy, and the support of loved ones can help, anxiety in teens is often something that will follow them throughout life. As a result, worry and irrational fear are a constant part of their lives. A recent article by Bustle discusses 3 situations that should be avoided when dealing with anxiety in teens.

It’s extremely important that individuals suffering from anxiety in teens not avoid every situation that gives them anxiety—doing so can actually make anxiety in teens worse, and cause them to miss out on important opportunities. However, it’s important that teens not push themselves to a breaking point.

Anxiety in Teens: 3 Situations That Should Be Avoided

  1. Toxic Environments. Teens spend 40 hours a week at school, so it’s incredibly difficult when the environment is toxic. Bullying or social issues among peers can especially cause anxiety in teens. Many teens who suffer from this report having symptoms including sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and anxiety. If teens are experiencing a toxic environment, they should discuss with their teachers or advisors about switching seats in class or avoiding people that are causing them distress.
  2. Triggering Living Situations. When anxiety in teens is present, teens often have to face fears on a daily basis. Triggers like public speaking, driving, or meeting new people are things that individuals with anxiety need to push themselves to do, otherwise they let the disorder win. Living with anxiety in teens is often incredibly exhausting, because normal activities that are east for most teens require significantly more effort from those with anxiety. Ensuring that the home environment is a safe space is essential. Of course, no living situation is perfect, but eliminating potential anxiety triggers in the home can help reduce anxiety on a daily basis.
  3. Spending Too Much Time Alone. While there’s a lot of value in alone time, it’s important to be maintain social relationships. Anxiety in teens can cause individuals to feel the need to hide from the world. This is often due to an excess in negative thoughts. When people with anxiety are left alone with these negative thoughts, it ca be harder for them to control them and maintain a healthy life. When symptoms of anxiety are high, teens should consider spending more time with loved ones or peers, instead of hiding out.

If your teen is struggling with anxiety, there are programs that can help.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles social media addiction, please call 828-484-9946!

Overwhelming Bad News: The Effect of Social Media on Youth

Overwhelming Bad News: The Effect of Social Media on Youth 150 150 se_admin

We’re being bombarded by disturbing news: the attacks in France, Orlando, San Bernardino, Brussels, and so many more. If you think you–the parent–are the only one reading about these events, you’re probably wrong. If your teen has any form of social media, they’ve probably heard about these awful events, too. CNN recently published an article discussing the harmful effect of social media on youth because of the relentless circulation of negative news.

The effect of social media on youth due to negative news

It’s difficult to avoid the effect of social media on youth nowadays. Basically every child over the age of 14 has access to some type of social media, whether it’s through a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other technology. Now, with this flow of bad news on all social media, vicarious trauma is becoming a very possible effect of social media on youth. Experts disagree on the levels of severity caused by violent news, but it’s still possible and dangerous.

Vicarious trauma a real possibility

CNN interviewed Dr. Pam Ramsden, a psychology lecturer at the University of Bradford in the UK, who has had immense experience with the effects of negative news. She says, though not a specific diagnosis, vicarious trauma can escalate to issues like post-traumatic stress. It may sound ridiculous at first, but you can probably bring to mind a piece of footage or a picture from the media that’s stuck in your head. It’s just that amplified.

The individuals that really struggle with this often engage in obsessive consumption, like re-watching a traumatic piece of video. This may cause extreme fear, making an individual act much differently. So how do you combat this type of trauma and anxiety as an effect of social media on youth? You limit it.

One of the only ways to help quell this anxiety and trauma surrounding bad news through social media is to limit yourself. I know, you’re thinking, “How do I get my teen to limit themselves?” Well, first sit them down and explain it to them, especially if they have been vocally expressing their fears due to recent negative events on the news. Next, there are ways you can shut off your teen’s phone after a certain time. Maybe no screens after 8PM would be a good rule. The important thing to do is to communicate with your teen and figure out the best schedule for the whole family.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral problems. We strive to help our girls develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles issues related to the effect of social media on youth, please call 828-484-9946.

Depression & Teen Self Harm More Likely in Social Media-Using Girls

Depression & Teen Self Harm More Likely in Social Media-Using Girls 150 150 se_admin

We live in an era where nearly every teen has a smartphone in their hand. They can communicate with each other within seconds through various platforms, find information with a few clicks of a finger, and–for girls especially–possibly increase their risk for developing depression, anxiety, or teen self harm.

You may be thinking, “What? Because they use social media? No way.” Many recent studies have found a link between these mental health issues and a higher use of social media in girls–so this is very real and very important. Teen self harm, depression, and anxiety are all serious struggles, which means this issue needs to be looked at with a more serious tone. Daily Mail recently reported on this increasing issue.

Social media & mental health issues in girls

It’s been discovered that more than 25 percent of girls, ages 16 to 24, are struggling with symptoms of depression. How is that compared to the rate for males? It’s 3 times as much. Teen self harm is also becoming a worrying issue–anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of girls have engaged in teen self harm (cutting is the most common method). A report conducted by NHS found that young women are experiencing symptoms of mental health issues at a much faster rate than boys.

Stephen Buckley, the head of information at the mental health charity Mind, explains that the increase is likely due to a combination of things. He stated:

“Young people are coming of working age in times of economic uncertainty, they’re more likely to experience issues associated with debt, unemployment and poverty, and they are up against increasing social and environmental pressures, all of which affect well-being. Since the last data was released in 2009, we’ve seen a surge in the use of social media.”

Buckley says that social media can be a powerful tool for positivity and support for those that have a struggle finding elsewhere. He also says that it can be a bringer of negativity, too. Quite often, social media can lead to negative feelings and behaviors because of the “instantaneous and anonymous nature” of it. It’s not unheard of for teens to target one another online–cyberbullying is an increasing issue and it happens to girls a lot.

If you believe your daughter is struggling with depression, anxiety, or teen self harm, it’s important to seek out a professional for further guidance on how to best help her.

Solstice East helps with teen self harm in girls

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, teen self harm, and other emotional or behavioral problems. In our residential treatment for teens, we strive to help our girls develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East treats teen self harm, please contact us at  828-484-9946.

What’s Causing the Increased Need for Anxiety Treatment for Teens?

What’s Causing the Increased Need for Anxiety Treatment for Teens? 150 150 se_admin

There’s a looming question for professionals and parents: why is the need for anxiety treatment for teens increasing? Can we just better identify it now and that’s why there are “more” teens with anxiety, or is it a deeper issue that has to do with school and society? Psychology Today recently published an article discussing the different possibilities for the increase in anxiety treatment for teens and why it’s needed.

Why are teens more anxious?

The level of anxiety in teens today is much higher than what it used to be, anxiety treatment for teens has increased exponentially. Researchers are extremely interested in why and how it got to be this way. There’s a load of theories and it’s likely there’s no easy answer out there. In the article, two main outlooks are discussed, over-diagnosing or a more stressful environment.

One explanation could be over-diagnosing or doctors being too quick to slap “anxiety” on something that may just be healthy worry. But before we feed into that theory, there’s large evidence that it’s more the environment around our teens that’s fueling this new need for anxiety treatment for teens. Take a moment to think about it.

On average, teens don’t get 8 hours of sleep–they don’t get even close to it actually. So, first off, they’re sleep deprived. Next, they have a lot more weight on their shoulders to do well in school so they can get into college–which they need scholarships, too, because college is insanely expensive. Then, on top of that, colleges want you to not just have good grades, but they also want you to be active in the community and sports life. With the workload that teens have nowadays, that’s really difficult to do. And to just make the anxiety worse, about half of teens have a part-time job and about 5 percent work over 20 hours a week at that job.

Oh, but there’s more. Today, we’re more connected than ever to what’s happening around the world; the beauty, the culture, the politics–and also the violence. Teens spend more time on their devices than they do sleeping, which means they’re most definitely getting exposed to this violence that’s happening all over the world. With all the stress of daily school life, a fear of violence can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

So, as I said, there’s no right or perfect answer–it’s probably a mix of the theories above and even more. If you believe someone your know could benefit from anxiety treatment for teens, it’s important to seek out a professional for further guidance.

Solstice East offers anxiety treatment for teens

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral problems. In our residential treatment for teens, we strive to help our girls develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about anxiety treatment for teens at Solstice East, please contact us at  828-484-9946.

People Can Change: New Research on Ways To Cope With Stress In Teenagers

People Can Change: New Research on Ways To Cope With Stress In Teenagers 150 150 se_admin

Teens nowadays are under mounting pressure to do well in school, to have a vibrant social life, and to take part in extracurricular activities. Sometimes juggling all of those elements can lead to a huge amount of stress in teenagers.

Stress is known to have a variety of negative side effects which is why it’s really important to do everything we can to decrease that stress. That’s where some really interesting research, described recently in the New York Times, comes into play.

What’s this new research about?

The research, conducted by David S. Yeager who is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, discovered a surprisingly effective technique to lower stress levels in teens.

In two of the studies Yeager conducted, 60 students at a high school in Rochester, NY and 205 freshmen at a high school in Austin, TX participated in reading and writing exercises intended to promote one, specific message: people can change.

Students were told to read a science article which detailed the ways in which an individual’s personality can evolve over time.

In addition to the science articles, students read stories written by high school seniors about their experiences with change during their time in school. One student’s retelling detailed their feeling of exclusion and loneliness earlier on in high school. This student later got involved in extracurriculars and made friends, displaying that people can change their situations.

Students were then asked to take part in a writing assignment which prompted teens to give advice about change to younger students.

Following that, participants took part in exercised intended to induce stress. They were told to give a speech about what makes some teens popular and were then asked to count back from 996 by sevens.

After being put through the ringer with these exercises, students experienced lower levels of stress and were able to better cope with stress in teenagers overall. They were shown to have half the cardiovascular reaction from their control counterparts and their levels of cortisol dropped by 10 percent.  

Meanwhile, teens in the control group had cortisol levels rise by 45 percent. The evidence was clear: by creating a framework of the idea that people can change over time, participants could develop better coping mechanisms.

The second study Yeager conducted involved 205 freshmen, half of whom who had received the aforementioned intervention (reading and writing exercises about change). They were all told to fill out an online diary each day describing stressful events that occurred throughout the day.

For those students who had received the intervention, they showed a 10 percent decrease in cortisol and said they could handle the stress in their diary. Those who hadn’t experienced an 18 percent increase in cortisol and noted that they had trouble handling the stress.

In addition, participants earned higher grades than students in the control group by the end of the semester.

Lowering stress, happier teens

So what does this research tell us? According to Laurence Steinberg, professor of adolescent psychology at Temple University, this research “boost[s] kids’ self-confidence by changing their belief in their own ability to change.”

By feeling like they had the capability to change over time, students felt less stressed out about their current situation. Is this a sustainable intervention? Only time will tell.

Solstice East can help teens struggling with anxiety

Solstice East, a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18, helps girls struggling with anxiety, trauma, depression, and other emotional or behavioral issues.

For more information about Solstice East, please call (855) 672-7058.