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The Media is Driving Eating Disorders in Teens

The Media is Driving Eating Disorders in Teens 613 437 se_admin

Media and Self-Image

We are constantly bombarded with what the “ideal body” should look like. It is omnipresent in all kinds of media such as television, billboards, magazines, and even more commonly these days, on social media. As the media attempts to dictate what “pretty” means, it is very damaging to the most impressionable: young girls faced with extremely unrealistic body standards. Most will not fit the extremely thin, tall, and overall “flawless” images that are pushed every day.

While we should be celebrating diversity and how everyone is unique, that is not generally what trends as popular content. This ends up sowing discontent with personal appearances and leads to greater insecurities and potentially eating disorders.

Self-esteem drop

Young girls who are struggling with their weight or their appearance seem to hear the media screaming, “You need to look this way to be pretty.” This can lead to a lot of self-esteem issues.

In a study, reported on by the New York Times, researchers found that at 9 years old, when girls were asked if they were comfortable with how they looked and who they were, 60 percent responded positively. Once they hit high school, this figure steeply dropped to 29 percent. This shows that there’s a serious factor making young girls’ self-esteems plummet and many think that factor is the media. Low self-esteem is a factor in the development of an eating disorder.

What causes eating disorders in teens?

There are many factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders. From the Mayo Clinic, some of the common external factors that lead to eating disorders in teens include:

  • Society’s pressure: this includes the popular idea that thin is healthy. Many girls with average weights could develop the perception that they’re not thin enough.
  • Activities that require a certain body type: this includes activities like modeling or athletic sports. Often these activities emphasize leanness, increasing the risk for teen eating disorders.

How to get help

Eating disorders in teens can become a huge, life-ruining issue if ignored. With the proper treatment and care, your daughter can overcome their disorder and move forward. Solstice East is a residential treatment center for struggling girls, ages 14 to 18. Solstice East specializes in providing care and treatment for girls having difficulties dealing with trauma, self-esteem issues, and many more.

For more information on how Solstice East can help with eating disorders in teens, call us today at 828-484-9946.

teen mood disorders

Therapy for Trauma in Teens: Sleep Is Critical for Processing

Therapy for Trauma in Teens: Sleep Is Critical for Processing 1920 1275 se_admin

Sleep—it’s the fuel for our brains. In our society, many people view sleep as a waste of time or something that’s a tedious task, but that’s incredibly incorrect. During sleep, we’re able to process intense emotions, figure out issues, review new information, and give our brains time to reboot. Recently, a study highlighted the possible importance of sleep for working through traumatic experiences. As a program that offers therapy for trauma in teens, we understand the critical role sleep plays in helping a teen work through challenges.

Teens and Trauma

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: two-thirds of children have reported experiencing a traumatic event before the age of sixteen. This could include: psychological or physical abuse, community or school violence, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence, natural disasters, a sudden loss of a loved one, military family-related stressors such as deployment or injury, neglect, and serious accidents or life-threatening illnesses. Traumatic stress may present differently in children than adults, and can even vary from young children to older children. Middle and high school students experiencing traumatic stress may exhibit signs such as: 

  • Feel depressed or alone
  • Develop eating disorders or self-harming behaviors
  • Begin abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Become involved in risky sexual behavior

Teens who are experiencing symptoms from traumatic stress may also face additional challenges because they are in a unique stage of development. As their brains continue to grow and their prefrontal cortex develops, they may not yet have the ability to process their trauma in a healthy way. This is why creating healthy habits around things like eating, exercise, and sleep are an important part of helping their brain continue to develop during the teen years. 

The Power of Sleep

Research has shown that, in general, sleep helps us make sense of emotions. Sleep plays a key role in encoding information based on experiences from the day, making sleep critical for preserving memories. And emotional memories are unique because of the way they activate the amygdala, the brain’s emotional core. We already know that with a lack of sleep, humans tend to struggle to do the simplest of tasks and can even become a risk to ourselves. Those hours spent with our eyes closed aren’t just used for rest, they’re used to refresh our entire bodies–and they could actually be essential for processing trauma as well.

In a new study conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich and the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, researchers looked into whether catching some shuteye within the first 24 hours after a traumatic experience helped or not. To do this, they showed individuals a very traumatic video and sought to see whether sleep impacted the influence of the video or not. The first author of the study, Birgit Kleim, explained their results:

“Our results reveal that people who slept after the film had fewer and less distressing recurring emotional memories than those who were awake. This supports the assumption that sleep may have a protective effect in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.”

The researchers believe this is because sleep can help separate the fear associated with the experience from the memory, making it easier to process. They also think sleep provides context and understanding on a level we don’t fully understand yet. Now, one night of rest after a traumatic experience isn’t going to make it go away, but it seems like it’s definitely an early prevention technique that needs to be looked into.

A 2018 study with children 8-11 found that children who slept after being shown negative pictures showed a smaller emotional response in late positive potential (LPP). LPP fires up when the brain is processing emotion, and often large spikes occur when those emotions are negative. This research suggests that sleep helps with both crystallizing emotional information – and with controlling how it makes us feel. And this effect works quickly.

Nap or a Full Night’s Sleep?

Rapid eye movement is usually the sleep we fall into during a full night’s rest sleep. REM is associated with emotional memories, and more REM sleep makes people better at assessing others’ emotional intentions and recalling emotional stories. One theory relates to the absence of the stress hormone noradrenaline during REM sleep. Temporarily relieved of this hormone, the brain may use the time to process memories without the stress. 

Slow-wave sleep (SWS) is the first phase of sleep that consolidates memories and is especially good for processing neutral memories. Naps mostly consist of non-REM sleep. A 2018 paper appears to be the first to show that naps, and not just overnight sleep, contribute to emotional memory processing in children. Without a nap, children showed a bias toward emotional faces. With a nap, they responded similarly to neutral stimuli as they did to emotional stimuli. While older adults will benefit more from REM sleep, younger adults and children may benefit from both REM and SWS. 

Residential Treatment for Trauma

Dealing with trauma can be challenging and even isolating for teens. They may feel that their parents do not understand their struggles and that their friends could never relate or will think they’re “weird” or “damaged” if they talk to them about the trauma symptoms they’re experiencing. Because of this, many teens with trauma find themselves withdrawing from support systems instead of reaching out for help. This is where a residential treatment center that specializes in trauma can be incredibly beneficial for teens. As a program that offers therapy for trauma in teens, we strive to promote healthy living in our students. This includes a good 8 hours of sleep a night because we understand the importance of rest for the brain and the therapeutic process.

At Solstice East, the term “trauma” is frequently used to describe a broad spectrum of personal challenges. As one of the top trauma treatment centers, cutting-edge neurological research has helped us to better understand the impact of trauma on a developing brain and has driven a greater understanding of the most effective methods that can be implemented in its treatment. 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.

Cutting-edge neuroscientific research has identified regulation as the key element found in healthy, healing relationships. When regulated, our neurological functions can be centralized in the pre-frontal cortex– the part of the brain involved in rational decision-making.  When dysregulated, our neurological functions are more likely found in the limbic system, the midbrain, or even all the way back in the brain stem.

When stuck in these less rational parts of the brain we tend to display poor emotional boundaries, higher levels of emotional reactivity, and are unable to attune to our own needs—let alone the needs of others. Moments of relational interaction that lack attunement are much more likely to cause damage in a relationship. We work on this through our relationship therapy tactics. Our programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While students are attending Solstice East they will build relationships with peers and staff members.We have found that these relationships are essential to helping your daughter heal from her trauma and build a strong and empowered identity.

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 on 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.

Solstice East offers therapy for trauma in teens

Success in working with young women requires specific and unique areas of emphasis and sensitivity to how they respond to various approaches to change. As one of the best residential treatment centers, we have created a culture and approach specifically developed to fit the distinctive needs of teenage girls. Whether it is our specifically designed equine approach and addictions programs, or the clinical specialization and collaboration of our therapists, Solstice East is uniquely qualified to address the complex needs of girls in need of healing and growth.

Solstice East is an all-girls residential treatment center that offers therapy for trauma in teens, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, PTSD, low self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. In our therapy for trauma in teens, we strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how our therapy for trauma in teens at Solstice East can help your daughter, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

The Impacts of Virtual Learning on Teens

The Impacts of Virtual Learning on Teens 150 150 se_admin

Teens have much to feel worried about during this pandemic. Will their families stay safe? Will their friends get sick? They worry they are falling behind. They worry about what that means for their future, and how that might affect college or the workforce after their graduate. That compounded with the stress of trying to complete virtual learning without the proper support can cause students to feel overwhelmed and defeated. There is also the simple fact that, for some teens, school is not a priority. It was OK when they have friends and free periods to look forward to during the day, but now that everything is carried out on the screen where they can stay on mute or have their camera off, it may just feel easier to not engage. 

The Impact of Virtual Learning

A poll of 849 teenagers by Common Sense Media found that as schools across the country transition to some form of online learning, 41% of teenagers overall, including 47% of public school students, say they haven’t attended a single online or virtual class. This startling number can be attributed to a variety of things such as, a lack of technology resources at home, parents who have to work and are unable to monitor school attendance, schools without the proper resources to effectively run online learning, or students who are struggling with learning or mental health issues without the proper support. 

Teachers across the country are having to learn new ways to teach a classroom of squares on a screen. There is less motivation for students to focus on a lesson where they are surrounded by the distractions of home. It becomes more difficult for teachers to teach to the individual, because even though each teen’s learning style is unique, not having students in-person places a lot of boundaries on the lesson. Research done in past disasters suggests that it is teenagers who are the most at risk when school is interrupted. Many are forced to work to earn money or have to stay home and take care of younger siblings. They are more likely to drop out and less likely to go on to college.

In-Person Learning in Residential Treatment

Learning in a classroom with peers helps give teens a sense of belonging and community. If they are feeling confused about a topic, it’s easy to look around the room and see if their friends are struggling too. They are able to be engaged physically in the room around them with classroom materials and hands-on projects. For many teens, kinetic learning is an important part of information retention. This is difficult to duplicate in an online setting. But even knowing the benefits of in-person learning, we do not want to put our teens in a dangerous situation due to this pandemic. This is where a residential treatment center can be a helpful solution. 

Students who attend a residential treatment center are naturally in a bubble. All the other students who are attending class also live on campus. There is not the worry that your teen will be exposed to another student who has gone home and interacted with a parent or sibling who may have been exposed to the virus. It is a safer environment where the program can control the possibility of exposure, while also offering academics that will help your teen reach their goals. 

At Solstice East, we have curated our academic program to be fully integrated with our premier therapeutic clinical program. Our experience has shown us that teens who succeed academically will be more likely to apply motivation to other areas of their lives as well. Students who experience an increase in self-confidence and self-efficacy from academics also display positive progress in their clinical work and in mending family relationships. Our teachers and therapists work hand-in-hand to ensure each student reaches their therapeutic goals while achieving academic success.

Solstice East Can Help

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 please call (828) 469-0905.

Kanye West on Teen Depression

Kanye West on Teen Depression 150 150 se_admin

What is Teen Depression?

Teen depression is typically diagnosed if youth experience depressive symptoms for more than 2 weeks. Common symptoms of teen depression include mood swings, irritability, changes in eating habits, frequent sadness and crying, low self-esteem, and thoughts of death or suicide.

For youth experiencing teen depression, most guidelines recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other psychological therapies as treatment options. According to the recent study, an increasing number of youth with teen depression are being prescribed antidepressants.

Kanye West Opens Up on His Battle with Depression

Kanye West sat down with BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac for an exclusive chat, discussing his botched Glastonbury performance and his state of mild depression. West states:

“I started off the show and I completely messed up the music. And me, as you can imagine by this phone call, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So it really put me into a slightly depressed state and it put me back in the position of when I was in high school and I got fired from my job, or when I played my music for R. Kelly and he told me he was going to sign me and then three months later I didn’t have any money I couldn’t afford a haircut, I couldn’t take my girlfriend to the movies and I’m still in my momma’s bedroom, working on beats and I was that close to being signed by R. Kelly.”

West’s statement highlights how any troubled time can create symptoms of depression. Teen depression is extremely common in our society and it’s important that youth know they have help available to them. If your teen is suffering with teen depression, 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!


Teenage Mood Swings: Why Do They Happen?

Teenage Mood Swings: Why Do They Happen? 150 150 se_admin

The door slamming, the angst, the rebellion; if you’re the parent of a teenager, you’re probably familiar with these things. Adolescents are notorious for their ridiculous teenage mood swings, but is it their fault? Are teenagers supposed to have drastic changes in temper and act impulsively? The answer is yes, within reason.

What causes teenage mood swings?

Adolescence is a period of aggressive change within the human body. The brain is the last organ in the body to mature, and it’s not fully developed until the mid-20s. Dr. Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist, wrote a book on the subject of teenage mood swings titled The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.

In the book, Jensen explains why teenagers take so many risks. It all boils down to the part of the brain associated with impulse control, decision-making and executive functioning not being hooked up completely with the rest of the brain until much later. The imbalance between the limbic system, which is associated with emotions, and the frontal lobe create a cocktail for teenage mood swings, Dr. Jensen says. Teenager’s emotions are at the helm, driving decision-making.

The effects of drugs more harmful on teenage brain

The effects of substances are more permanent on the teen brain. They have more deleterious effects and can be more toxic to the teen than the adult. – Dr. Frances Jensen

As Dr. Jensen said, teenagers are prone to risk-taking, which often includes experimenting with drugs. Many people believe that teenagers actually have an easier time breaking addictions and bouncing back, but research has deemed that untrue.

Research has shown that teenagers are more prone to addiction and can become addicted to substances much faster than adults. The lasting effects of drugs are also larger in teenagers. In a few studies, researchers found that teens that used marijuana for prolonged amounts of time (daily) for a year or more had permanent changes in their brain and did worse on verbal IQ tests.

Getting treatment

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for teenage girls, ages 14 to 17. We help girls that struggle with issues, such as impulse control, trauma recovery, depression, anxiety and many more. We understand that teenage mood swings sometimes get out of hand and are often paired with other issues, such as depression or drug abuse. Solstice East is here to rebuild and heal your family.

For more information about how Solstice East helps girls deal with their teenage mood swings, call us today at 828-484-9946.

Laura scores on her own goal: Recovering from Trauma

Laura scores on her own goal: Recovering from Trauma 150 150 se_admin

Recovering from trauma can be a long journey. For some who have experienced trauma, all it takes is becoming exposed to the situation that caused the trauma in the first place.

Laura Bassett, a player for the English FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer team, scored on her own goal during overtime in one of the final games of the World Cup against Japan.

Bassett was absolutely traumatized, and it showed. She sobbed on the field as the Japanese players congratulated each other for their victory. If she had refused to play soccer again, begun to distance herself from friends or had continuous crying spells, she might have been in need of a therapeutic intervention.

However, a couple of days later, at the start of England’s battle for third place against Germany, crowds of people cheered Bassett on as she took to the field. She went on to help her team take third place in the Women’s World cup for the first time in history, facing her trauma head on.

“Big-T” and “little-t” traumas

Trauma comes in two different forms: “Big-T” and “Little-t.” Big-T traumas are those created by catastrophic events, such as major car accidents, natural disasters and severe physical and sexual abuse. Little-t traumas have the same neurological impact as Big-T traumas but are created by smaller events such as bullying, adoption or divorce. Big-T and little-t traumas might cause the same amount of disruption to a person’s emotional, spiritual, and social development. Bassett experienced what one might consider a “little-t” trauma, but it could effect her the rest of her life just like a Big-T trauma would.

How to help

The helplessness and powerlessness people feel as a result of trauma is far more important than the content of the trauma. Getting help for your daughter experiencing these disruptive feelings is crucial to her well being. Make sure to contact a therapist as soon as she begins to express symptoms of trauma. The most evidence-based therapeutic techniques for trauma include:

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): TF-CBT focuses on identifying feeling related to the trauma and coming up with a narrative of the traumatic event. It helps teens recovering from trauma think through distorted memories and discuss their trauma openly.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR helps teens recover from trauma by reprocessing memories. This is done by recovering distressing images from the traumatic event.
  • Somatic Experiencing: Somatic experiencing focuses on a person’s perceived body sensations. Through an awareness of how a person’s body feels, teens recovering from trauma can recognize what is causing a build-up of tension within their body causing trauma-related stress.
  • Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy(TF-EAP): TF-EAP uses horses to help teens recovering from trauma regulate their emotions and physical well being.

Another way to help your teen recovering from trauma is to send her to a residential treatment center. Residential treatment centers can help your daughter get the help she needs.

Solstice East is a residential treatment center based in Asheville, NC, for teen girls ages 14-18. Solstice East utilizes advanced therapeutic techniques to help your teen recover from trauma.

For more information about Solstice East treats trauma, please call us at 828-484-9946.

7 Tips to Help Struggling Teens

7 Tips to Help Struggling Teens se_admin

When your child reaches her teen years, she’s probably going to start drifting away from you. This can leave you with hurt or rejected feelings, creating stress because there is a constant battle of wills. As your teen asserts her independence over friends, clothes, music, curfew and other issues, she’s expressing her desire to become and independent adult. For many family issues, it might seem like there is no solution.

However, you can help struggling teens reconnect with your family through some simple tips:


  • Listen to her. Spend twice as much time listening to your teen than talking to them. Teens are going through a lot. In fact, their whole world is about to change. They need someone who can lend an ear to their multitude of problems. If you don’t listen to them, they will go speak to their friends instead, leaving you out completely.
  • Spend time with her. Make time for activities she likes to do, whether that be hiking, going out to eat or going shopping. Make sure she knows you care about the things she likes to do.
  • Keep up with her interests. Knowing what music, movies and TV shows she’s into can help strengthen your bond.
  • Get on social media with her. A study conducted by Brigham Young University found that teens who were the most connected to their parents on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media felt closer to them in real life. Those teens were also less likely to be depressed, delinquent or behave aggressively.
  • Watch television with her. Let her pick the show you’re going to watch, which can help you get an insight into her interests.  A paper published this past summer in the Journal of Adolescent Research reviewed longitudinal data on 633 adolescents and their parents,  finding positive outcomes for families that used media such as TV and  movies “as a tool—to laugh together, to become informed, to connect, to spark discussion.” After all, families that laugh together, stay together.
  • Demonstrate your love for her. Being a teenager is tough, but having loving parents who constantly tell you how much they love and care about you can help your daughter become more comfortable in her own skin. Celebrate her achievements, listen to her worries and be there for her when she gets emotional (which will happen).
  • Be honest. Be open about your past and do not lie to her about anything. She’s at an age where she can detect when you are telling a “white lie”.


Solstice East, a residential treatment center for teen girls, helps struggling teens overcome their emotional and behavioral deficiencies and become capable, wonderful individuals. For more information on how we can help struggling teens, please call us today, at 828-484-9946.


trauma in teens

Trauma In Teens: Life Crippling If Not Treated

Trauma In Teens: Life Crippling If Not Treated 2560 1707 se_admin

In a recent article by LA Times, researchers in a large study found that one in four children, ages six to 17, in the U.S. have experienced some violent act as either a victim or witness. 1 in 33 children has been a direct victim of gun or knife violence.

The study found that the effects on younger children of witnessing a violent act were equally traumatizing as them being the victim. Ignored trauma symptoms can transform into something life-crippling.

What is trauma?

Trauma is often associated with physical harm, though psychological trauma can be just as serious and damaging. It mentally and physically debilitates a person if not treated in a safe manner. Trauma originates from getting injured, seeing others harmed, suffering from sexual abuse, or losing loved ones, among many other tragic events. Identifying trauma symptoms and coping with them can be a difficult challenge, but if left alone it can become deadly.

Symptoms of trauma in teens

Responses to trauma don’t always follow immediately after an event and they can emerge in different forms depending on the type of person. Types of trauma symptoms in teens might include:

  • Distancing from family and friends
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Lack of interest in school, friends, family, etc.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Overreacting to minor irritations
  • Difficulties in concentration, short-term memory and problem-solving
  • Reckless or dangerous behavior
  • Substance abuse

How to deal with teen trauma

Families can help their teen get through a traumatic event by giving support, love and developing an environment that encourages them to talk about their emotions and what they’re feeling. In certain situations, a family might need an extra hand in helping their teen through trauma; many treatment programs exist to do just that.

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14-18. At Solstice East, we use the cutting-edge, effective methods to help trauma in teen girls. We treat the entire person (mind, body and spirit) with the best evidence-based therapeutic approaches in order for our girls to truly heal from their traumatic experience.

Call us today, at 828-484-9946, to learn more about how Solstice East helps trauma in teens.