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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.

when does grief become unhealthy

Trauma Treatment Center for Teens: When Grief Becomes Unhealthy

Trauma Treatment Center for Teens: When Grief Becomes Unhealthy 2560 1707 se_admin

Grief–we all feel it at some point in our lives, but for some, it’s experienced far too early on. The first experience of grief can be through the loss of a friendship or the death of a pet or a grandparent. As a trauma treatment center for teens, we know that grief is a natural response to loss, most frequently having to deal with the death of a loved one–but this natural response can run out of control. It can fill an individual with unrelenting sadness and hopelessness, essentially making daily life a struggle. Untreated, this type of grief can ruin a person’s life–which is why it is so critical to understand what is normal and what is not when it comes to grief.

What can cause grief?

When you think of grief, what comes to mind? For most people, they think of losing a loved one–this is the most frequent cause of grief. There are other causes, though. Grief can arise when an individual or a loved one of the individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Even the loss of a relationship or friendship can trigger strong feelings of grief.

Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. For example, a young adult may feel grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, or even experiencing a career change. Whatever their loss, that grief is a personal thing. If that person, animal, relationship, or circumstance they lost was significant to them, it is normal to grieve that loss. There is no reason to feel ashamed of those feelings of grief. Sometimes people experiencing what they consider to be “smaller” losses may feel like they do not have the same right to grieve as people who have suffered larger tragedies. But the reality is that whatever your loss, you are allowed to have your feelings. 

For adolescents, grief can be much different than in adults. Adults have had the time and experience to build up defenses and coping methods for grief–teenagers haven’t. In our trauma treatment center for teens, we know this can make the trauma of grief much more potent and unstable, which is why we treat it.

Dealing with Grief

Children and teens may experience grief differently than adults. They may be crying one moment, then enjoying an activity the next. But just as grief affects adults in different ways, each young person will have their own way of processing their grief. They may use distractions to keep from feeling overwhelmed, or they may experience episodes of depression, anxiety, or even outbursts of anger. 

When it comes to processing feelings of grief, encourage your teen to express their feelings. Emotions may feel tangled or confused, but give your daughter the space she needs to express whatever emotions may come up. Remind her that there is no right or wrong way to grieve a loss. She may have questions, so do your best to answer her questions honestly and clearly. You may not have all the answers, and that is OK. What matters the most is that your daughter knows that you are there for her during this difficult time. 

It can also be helpful to participate in the rituals that can provide comfort or closure. In the circumstance of a death, memorial services, funerals, or other traditions can help your daughter by being in the presence of other people who knew their loved one. These traditions can be a way to honor the person that they have lost. 

Grief can feel very lonely, even if they have loved ones around. Sharing their sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. A support group can be a beneficial tool to support your teen in their grief. The pain of grief can cause them to want to withdraw from others and isolate. But having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. 

It is also important to remind your daughter that dealing with grief will take time. Healing happens gradually and it cannot be forced or hurried. There is no “normal” timeline for healing from grief. For some people, they may feel better after a few weeks or months. For others, it may take years to begin to process that grief. Whatever she is experiencing with grief, help your daughter be patient with herself and the process. 

The difference between normal and harmful grief

As said before, grief is a normal, human response to loss. We feel grief when we’ve lost opportunities, relationships, friendships, and loved ones. It’s when that grief runs free with an uncontrollable force that it becomes an issue. 

Grief is something that is difficult to understand until you experience it. You can describe grief to someone, but experiencing it first hand is something completely different. This is why grief can be so challenging, and potentially traumatizing, for young adults. These big emotions can be devastating if they are not equipped with the proper coping methods. Grief can easily go from normal to extremely destructive. Teens who are experiencing harmful grief may experience symptoms such as:

  • Sleep disturbance: Teens who are experiencing harmful grief may experience sleep disturbances. This can manifest as lack of sleep or insomnia. Or excessive sleep, using sleep to avoid dealing with the pain of their emotions. 
  • Anger: Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, they may feel angry and resentful. If they lost a loved one, they may be angry with themself, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning them. They may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to them.
  • Guilt: They may feel responsible somehow, or guilty about whatever emotions they are feeling in their grief or what they think they should have or should not have done or said.
  • Fear: A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. They may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. They may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about their own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities they now face alone.
  • Isolation: Teens experiencing grief may begin to isolate themselves from family or friends. It could be because they don’t believe that anyone else can understand what they are going through. It could be because their peers feel awkward around them because they don’t know how to talk about their loss. It could also be that the feelings of grief feel too overwhelming and they feel that talking to other people about it is too painful. 

There may also be physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, and aches and pains. When the symptoms of their grief begin to get in the way of daily life and throw an individual into a deep, deep depression, help should be sought out. 

If you believe your daughter is struggling with grief, trauma, or any other mental health issue, it’s critical to seek out help as soon as possible. Early intervention and treatment is the key to success in these cases–don’t wait until it’s too late.

How a Trauma Treatment Center Can Help

Young women who are dealing with harmful grief may benefit from a residential treatment program that specializes in dealing with trauma. A residential treatment center provides a unique combination of therapeutic techniques stemming from both traditional and holistic mental health treatments that are gender and age-specific. Here they will work with clinical professionals who can help them build the coping mechanisms they need to move through their grief and process it in a healthy way. 

As one of the leading trauma treatment programs for girls, programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While your daughter is attending Solstice East she 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.

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.

Solstice East for Your Daughter

Solstice East is a trauma treatment center for teens–specifically for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls are often grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. In our trauma treatment center for 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 trauma treatment center for teens at Solstice East can help your daughter, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

why are teens impulsive

Out Of Control: Tips for Toning Down Your Teenage Daughter’s Impulsive Behavior

Out Of Control: Tips for Toning Down Your Teenage Daughter’s Impulsive Behavior 960 640 se_admin

How often have you found yourself asking your teen: “Why did you do that?”. Thi can range from the smaller issue of the dirty plate that’s been left in their room for the week to larger issues like missing curfew for the third time. Parenting teens can feel confounding, as you repeatedly ask them (and yourself): “Why?” Logic and proactive problem solving seem to have gone out the window, and often at the core of this behavior is your teenager’s lack of impulse control. 

Understanding Impulsive Teen Behaviors

Impulse is that quick thought in your head that says, “I wonder what would happen if I…”. When you have impulse control, you are able to follow that impulse with thinking through the chain reaction of what will happen after that first thought. For example, if the impulse is, “I’m having so much fun, I should keep hanging out with my friends!” when they are expected home for curfew, impulse control allows them to process that if they miss curfew their parents will be worried and upset, there will be consequences from their action and they will likely lose privileges. Impulse control allows us to see into the future and fully understand that each action has a consequence. 

Adolescence is a critical period of neurological development. In the first twenty years of life, the human brain experiences more growth and change than any other time in its life. The truth is, a teenage brain is not fully formed. And while teenagers may start looking like adults, they do not yet have the ability to fully act like adults. One of the connections in the brain that is still forming during adolescence is the one that governs reason and emotion, the prefrontal cortex. When the prefrontal cortex is fully developed, adults are better able to make decisions based on reason instead of pure emotion. They can look logically at a problem or situation and understand the effects of their actions. For teens, however, their prefrontal cortex is still developing, and when emotions can feel more intense or overwhelming. When they experience emotions such as sadness, disappointment, or aggression, they do not have all the resources needed to inhibit that impulse and emotionally driven response. 

By better understanding the biological aspects of teenage brain development, parents can not only improve their empathy but also facilitate safe and moderately structured environments for their teens.

The Dangers of Impulsive Behaviors

Impulsive behaviors can be especially risky during the teen years when your child begins to spend more and more time with their friends instead of their family. They are seeking out more independence as they work to discover their individuality. It is natural for friend relationships to become more important during this time, but risky behavior can be made worse when surrounded by other teens who also lack impulse control. Understanding that being impulsive is fairly common in teens, how do you know if your teen’s impulsive behavior is becoming a problem? 

  • Do you notice a pattern of impulsive behavior? This is not an occasional impulsive decision, but rather chronic impulsivity.
  • Do they seem unable to gain control over their impulses? Are they constantly frustrated with the outcome of the actions but seem completely unable to manage the impulse in the moment?
  • Is their impulsive behavior negatively affecting their life? Are they doing damage to relationships? Are they causing themself physical or emotional harm?

A lack of impulse control can lead to issues such as bingeing disorders, which could create a negative relationship with food, spending, or internet habits. Negative impulsive behaviors could also lead to physical violence, property destruction, frequent emotional outbursts, and escalating otherwise small problems. This impulsivity can also be dangerous during the teen years when many girls are entering their first romantic relationships. A lack of impulse control can cause girls to overshare intimate or personal information, or engage in physical relationships that they are not yet emotionally ready for. 

Tips for Improving Impulsive Control

We have six tips for controlling your teenage daughter’s impulsive behavior:

  1. Don’t place yourself in the power struggle. Approach your daughter’s behavior in a reasonable manner. Impulsive behavior is basically begging for a reactive response from others. Don’t be intensify the situation. “The harsher I sound, the better outcome I will get.” FALSE. While it is important to remember you are the parent, you should not feel like you need to defend an angry position. Tone of voice is everything. Keep calm, cool, and collected.
  2. Allow healthy release of impulsive behavior. Physical activity is a great way to burn off impulsivity. Other outlets for release can be listening to music, playing games, or walking away in the middle of a conversation (sometimes this is OK if it means not responding in an outburst). Make sure these channels are accessible to your daughter as they can help her cope with her desire to act impulsively.
  3. Address underlying issues. Being a teenager comes with many stresses and pressures. These stresses and pressures are often a root at the base of your daughter’s impulsive behavior. Impulsive behavior follows a clear pattern. Once you recognize your daughter’s trigger points, you should help her identify those and how to cope with them in a calm way.
  4. Encourage breathing and relaxation. Practices like yoga and meditation can help develop impulse control and awareness of thought. By cultivating that awareness of noticing their thoughts without immediately acting on them, girls can begin to respond instead of just reacting to a situation. If impulsive behavior leads to emotional or physical outbursts, deep breathing can help shift their mindset out of a fight or flight reaction. If you’ve ever noticed your body when you’re upset, your muscles are probably tense and your breathing is short and shallow. Deep breathing signals to the mind and body that you are in a safe place. Slowing down the breath can help release tension in the body and slow down racing thoughts. 
  5. Hold your daughter accountable. As a teenager your daughter should know that with actions come consequences. It’s important that you are firm in holding her accountable for her actions. Create boundaries and rules that will motivate her to practice good behavior. It may seem counterintuitive, but holding healthy boundaries shows your daughter that you respect her and care about her wellbeing. Although they probably will not say it out loud, teenagers need structure and limits to feel safe. 
  6. Praise her for her patience. Reassurance is a huge part of moving forward in alleviating impulsiveness. Acknowledge and empower your daughter when she shows self-control and patience when handling a situation. You should let her know when she is successfully managing her behavior. This type of encouragement and positivity can motivate her to make this a normal thing. 

While there are things that you can do at home to help your daughter learn to control her impulses, there may be situations when you need more help. A residential treatment center can provide the structure and support your daughter needs to build those skills. At Solstice East, students will work with therapists individually and in groups to understand the issues they are struggling with and create a treatment plan to move towards healthier behaviors. Solstice East also uses experiential therapy, equine therapy, and adventure activities, which provides multiple opportunities in different settings for them to practice those new skills. 

Our approach focuses on treating the whole person, not just the “problem behavior”. Our staff and students work together to get to the core of their issues to build a strong foundation. For example, if girls are struggling with addictive behaviors or unhealthy relationships, we see these are symptoms of the core issue. The primary goal of therapy is access to those core issues so that genuine healing can occur. In addition, a holistic approach accounts for the fact that our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and relational selves are all bound together. This “mind-body” philosophy is supported by continuous research that our mental and physical health is intertwined.

Solstice East: A program designed for your daughter

At Solstice East, the process of internal growth and change is facilitated by a succession of interventions aimed at helping our girls become young women of character. The process of developing and clarifying a positive value system, and learning to allow these values to drive their choices and behavior is a powerful process of growth. It is this process that drives internal growth, and once solidified, remains constant and growing long after graduation and into adulthood. We help teens instill positive values and principles throughout their journey at Solstice East. Through service activities and the development of friendships with peers, students are able to put positive values and principles into action.

Solstice East incorporates various types of therapies and takes a relationship-based approach to helping teenage girls learn to practice mindful behavior. The program helps them to establish healthy lifestyle habits through an emphasis on physical fitness and nutrition. We can provide your daughter with the tools she needs to redefine herself! For more information please contact us at 828-484-9946.

ptsd in children and teens

PTSD In Teenagers: How You Can Help Your Daughter

PTSD In Teenagers: How You Can Help Your Daughter 640 426 se_admin

Childhood trauma can have a profound impact on adolescent’s development, resulting in negative effects on physical growth, psychological development, mental health, and in severe cases, it can be the catalyst for developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Experiencing childhood trauma has become more widespread with many research studies claiming that over 50% of teens have been exposed to trauma at some point in their lives.

A 2013 research study of 6,483 teens found that 61% of teens had been exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event in their lifetime, including interpersonal violence such as rape, physical abuse, or domestic violence, injuries, natural disasters, or the death of a close family member. Of these teens, 19% had experienced 3 or more of these traumatic events, and nearly 5% had experienced PTSD under the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. Another study indicates that that as many as 16% of adolescents exposed to trauma may develop PTSD.

Research has shown that PTSD can increase vulnerability to psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, as well as several physical problems such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and cancer, and cognitive problems such as brain development and emotional attachment. Because of the potential damages of PTSD, it’s essential to understand the causes of PTSD, recognize its symptoms and impacts, and get your teen treatment as soon as possible to aid in her recovery.

Causes of PTSD in teens

Post-traumatic stress disorder is defined as a condition brought on by exposure to a traumatic event. As discussed, the majority of children will experience some type of traumatic event in their lifetime, but children with PTSD don’t bounce back from this trauma. Instead, they develop harmful behavioral patterns that can be debilitative without treatment.

There are many risk factors associated with the likelihood of developing PTSD as a teenager. Research indicates that the two groups of adolescents that are most likely to have been exposed to trauma in their lifetime are those who did not have both biological parents in the home and those who had pre-existing mental and behavioral disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

In a study that found 4.5% of teens had experienced PTSD in their lifetimes, there were many risk factors. One of the greatest risk factors was being a female; females had a 7.3 percent lifetime prevalence of PTSD compared to only 2.2 percent of males. Another risk factor included interpersonal violence as PTSD was found in 39% of teens who had been raped and 25% of teens who had been physically abused by a caregiver. Lastly, those who had underlying mood disorders such as anxiety and depression were also more likely to be at risk for developing PTSD.

Beyond risk factors, there are many known causes for developing PTSD in children and adolescents. The causes can be broken up into two categories: interpersonal traumas and non-interpersonal traumas. Interpersonal trauma includes events such as violent assaults, rape, physical or sexual abuse, school or neighborhood shootings, and military combat.

A 2020 study indicates the link between interpersonal traumas and PTSD can be explained by social information processing theory. Those who have experienced violent trauma are predisposed to hostile attribution bias which increases the perception of threats and causes heightened stress reactivity. Simply put, those who experience violence are more likely to perceive violence in all settings which can cause them to relive their traumas and be fearful of various environments.

The other type of trauma that can result in PTSD is non-interpersonal trauma and this includes events such as car accidents, natural disasters, being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and going through the death of a loved one. A 2019 study conducted on the impacts of a 2008 earthquake found that up to 10% of children exposed to the earthquake had developed PTSD, and that their PTSD symptoms were heightened around the anniversary of the earthquake each year.

Even though PTSD can develop through various types of trauma, there are some similar symptoms you can look for if you’re concerned your daughter is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder.

Symptoms and impacts of PTSD on teens

For teens struggling with PTSD, they often feel like they are unable to escape the impact of the trauma they have experienced. Constant reminders of the trauma they went through can make it extremely challenging to go through day-to-day life, especially if they are unable to express what they are feeling to trusted adults. Here are some common symptoms to look for in teens experiencing PTSD:

  • Avoidance of situations – Teens with PTSD will often avoid situations, environments, and people that could cause them to remember the trauma they’ve experienced. They may also avoid talking about what happened so they don’t have to be reminded of it.
  • Reliving the trauma – Those experiencing PTSD will often have intense nightmares, flashbacks, or disturbing mental images about the trauma. Wanting to avoid the nightmares can also lead to a disruption in their sleeping patterns or cause insomnia
  • Anxiety – People with PTSD can experience extreme anxiety or nervousness. This can take the form of being easily startled, on edge, jumpy, irritable, or tense. This can be brought on by high levels of stress and cortisol in the body.
  • Developmental Regression – Some children who experience PTSD may regress to earlier, more childlike behaviors. This can include wetting the bed, becoming overly clingy to parents, developing separation anxiety, or even forgetting how to speak.
  • Emotional numbness – Teens struggling with past trauma, often feel numb and detached from the people and events in their lives. This detachment can also cause teens to view the world more negatively and hinder their ability to trust anyone. Research indicates this is because the brain overproduces some hormones that numb the senses during stress.
  • Acting impulsively – Teens with PTSD are likely to display self-destructive behavior and guilt. This could be in the form of substance use and abuse, engaging in sexual behavior, or engaging in situations that could put themselves and others in harm’s way.

In addition to the symptoms teens may display, there are many physical, mental, social and emotional impacts that adolescents with PTSD can experience. Due to the hypervigilance, change in sleeping patterns, and increased stress that individuals with PTSD experience, they can also experience negative physical health impacts. Common effects include back pain, migraines, stomachaches, muscle tension, and other body aches. A 2015 study found that childhood trauma can even cause long term changes in their body’s immune functioning which can cause potentially life threatening conditions such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

PTSD in adolescents can also have extremely adverse impacts socially and emotionally. A 2017 study found that those who had experienced PTSD and trauma were likely to misidentify sad and angry faces as fearful. Understanding and recognizing facial expressions is crucial for social functioning and communicating emotions, so this impairment can hurt an individual’s ability to connect with others and can be indicative of low empathy and impaired affective bonding.

Sometimes PTSD can occur in a particularly severe form called Complex PTSD. This type of PTSD is most commonly found in those who have experienced repeated sexual abuse in childhood. A study on Complex PTSD found that in combination with reliving the trauma, these individuals undergo massive personality changes that cause them to struggle with relationships and prohibit them from trusting, developing intimacy, and cultivating a positive sense of self worth.

For children and teens struggling with PTSD, early and consistent intervention can make a world of difference in their healing journey.

How you can help support your daughter through her PTSD

There are many options for treatment if your daughter is experiencing PTSD, and certain types of talk therapy, such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, have been proven to significantly reduce the symptoms of PTSD. There are also many steps you can take at home to help your daughter along her recovery journey. Try these strategies to help your teen with PTSD:

Research the causes and effects of PTSD – It can help to gather as much information as possible about PTSD to determine the root of the cause in your daughter. The more information you have, the more able you will be to provide her with the best course of treatment.

Learn to recognize PTSD episodes – One of the scariest impacts of PTSD on teens is reliving a flashback of the event, in which they feel like they are experiencing the trauma all over again. Knowing what to look for during these episodes can help you understand what is going on, what to expect, and what you can do to help in the moment.

Let them know they are not alone – As many as 16% of girls will experience some sort of PTSD in their lives and it can be helpful to know others have experienced this to help reduce alienation from others. Seeking out a PTSD support group can provide an opportunity to connect with others who have experienced similar situations.

Learn triggers – Many PTSD episodes are triggered by events, images, and sounds that remind teens of the original trauma they experienced. By knowing these triggers, you can help your teens avoid the kinds of situations that might cause a PTSD episode.

If your teen is struggling with childhood trauma and PTSD, a residential program like Solstice East, can provide her the holistic and restorative therapy she needs to heal.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls ages 14-18 that specializes in treating trauma. We utilize cutting edge neurological research to help us better understand the impact of trauma on the developing brain and to implement the most effective methods for 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. We believe that evidence based therapeutic techniques such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and gender specific treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process.For more information about how Solstice East can help, please call 828-484-9946.

coping skills for grief and loss

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Grief and Loss

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Grief and Loss 2560 1707 se_admin

Grief and loss are a part of every person’s life. At some point, we will lose a pet, or a friend, or a loved one. And while it is natural and normal, that does not make it any easier when it happens. 

Grief is especially challenging for young people. They are experiencing loss for the first time, and with no previous experience of dealing with it, they may not know what to do. The sadness can feel overwhelming and they fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Common Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms 

While each person deals with grief differently, there are some common coping mechanisms that present themselves during loss. Unhealthy coping mechanisms may include: 

  • Denial- refusing to acknowledge their loss or grief.
  • Risk-taking behavior- this could include acting without thought of consequences and acting out through unhealthy relationships.
  • Substance abuse- turning to alcohol or drugs to numb their feelings.
  • Over or under eating- using food as a tool to numb or distract.
  • Obsessing/Controlling- since they could not control their loss, they may seek to control what they can. 

There can be many factors, including low self-esteem, or a history of untreated anxiety and depression that can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. There may be a sense of emptiness or lack of safety that makes their loss feel intolerable and this inability to tolerate the emotions leads to those unhealthy behaviors. 

Healthier Tools

There is no “right” way to deal with loss. Part of dealing with grief is understanding that it affects different people in different ways. Young people dealing with grief need to understand that the feelings they’re experiencing are okay and that there is no such thing as normal when it comes to loss. It might take one person a few weeks to start to feel lighter, while others require much more time. It is important to give themselves some patience and grace as they move through their stages of grief. Acknowledging their pain and seeking out help can aid them to begin to deal with their loss. There may be good days and hard days, but it is all a part of processing their emotions. Grief counseling can also be an effective tool for working through their pain. An experienced therapist can help them work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to their grieving.

Solstice East Can Help

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.

The process of internal growth and change is facilitated by a succession of interventions aimed at helping our girls become young women of character. The process of developing and clarifying a positive value system, and learning to allow these values to drive their choices and behavior is a powerful process of growth. It is this process that drives internal growth, and once solidified, remains constant and growing long after graduation and into adulthood. For more information please call (828) 414-2980.

what causes eating disorders in teenage girls

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Eating Disorders

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Eating Disorders 2560 1707 se_admin

Many girls struggle with body image issues as they enter adolescence. They become acutely aware of how they are perceived. And with technology today, they have the internet at their fingertips so that they can constantly compare themselves to their peers and celebrities. This can feel overwhelming for any young girl dealing with body image issues, but for girls who have experienced childhood trauma, the risk of eating disorders is substantially increased.

Trauma and Eating Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.8% percent of girls aged 13-18 will experience an eating disorder. These eating disorders included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Contrary to what many people may think, eating disorders are rarely about food. Some young women may be feeling out of control and by restricting their food, they are controlling the one thing they can. For others, the root of the eating disorder may be unresolved trauma.

The National Eating Disorder Association states: “Approximately one-third of women with bulimia, 20% with binge eating disorder and 11.8% with non-bulimic/non-binge eating disorders met criteria for lifetime PTSD. Overall, the most significant finding was that rates of eating disorders were generally higher in people who experienced trauma and PTSD.” The term childhood trauma encompasses a wide range of distressing experiences a teen may have faced through their youth. It can range from dealing with their parents’ divorce to bullying to physical and emotional abuse. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders share some similar characteristics and they both have high rates of dissociation. Eating disorder behaviors may be a way to distance oneself from disturbing thoughts, emotions, or memories associated with PTSD. For others who binge and purge, there may be a desire to numb the negative feelings by binging and then purging, or getting rid of, all those negative emotions. Even though there is no actual removal of the emotion, the physical sensations can fulfill those emotional compulsions. 

Seeking Treatment

The most important factor in recovery for young women with eating disorders is seeking out treatment. Many teens are embarrassed or ashamed of their disorder and their mental health struggle, so it can be a challenge for them to reach out for help. If you notice your daughter is showing the warning signs of an eating disorder, a residential treatment facility can help. Combining research-based therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing with mindfulness practices and an environment designed to support them, can set her on a path toward recovery.

Solstice East Can Help

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.

Solstice East students are highly intelligent and highly sensitive. Our teens are creative and capable, but vulnerable to the pressures of their surroundings. They often experience the world differently through misperceptions and are impacted by issues of anxiety, depression, identity, attachment, mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Solstice East is committed to treating each student through a combination of individual, family, equine, and adventure therapies. For more information please call (855) 672-7058.


Early Treatment for Trauma Shown to be Critical for Recovery

Early Treatment for Trauma Shown to be Critical for Recovery 1000 632 se_admin

Your house being reduced to rubble during an earthquake, all of your belongings being washed away from a hurricane, losing someone in a car accident—traumatic events can have an intense impact on the adult human brain, but for the adolescent brain it can be even more damaging if treatment for trauma isn’t applied soon enough.

More studies are looking into how to improve treatment for trauma victims and the effects of experiencing a traumatic event. As a society, we’re becoming more aware that PTSD and trauma isn’t just for soldiers–it can happen to any of us, especially the young ones.

Mass trauma can affect young self-confidence

Let’s say a hurricane hits the coast. Communities are wrecked, families are displaced, and life is completely disrupted. In the moment, people do what they have to do to survive and get to safety, but what about afterwards? What are the effects?

This is exactly what a recent study by Iowa State University looked into. The researchers found that while whole communities were impacted, the children inside them had the most lasting effects.

They believe that this could be linked to how the children perceive their ability to intervene or control a situation. A disaster such as a hurricane can completely change a child’s understanding of their well-being–which is important for forming self-confidence in the later years.

They found that gender played a role, too. After traumatic events, girls were much more likely to experience PTSD symptoms compared to boys.

One researcher believes that this study shows we need to build coping mechanisms and ways to work through trauma before it’s actually needed. Understanding how children react to adverse events can help develop better and more efficient forms of treatment for trauma.

We need to strive to teach our children how to deal with bad things in effective ways–otherwise PTSD symptoms and other issues have a higher risk of developing. When a traumatic event happens, one of the first reactions is to not talk about it–but that’s often a mistake. Talking through it with a professional can help an individual work through their trauma rather than shoving it aside until it gets even worse.

Solstice East is here for your family

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. We understand the specific needs of girls, which is why our program is centered solely on them. Our students often grapple with depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us.

We have a strong emphasis on family therapy, nutrition, physical fitness. We also offer a supportive staff, cutting-edge 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 about treatment for trauma at Solstice East, please contact us 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.

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.