Mental and Emotional Health of Troubled Teens
Helpguide.org defines human "mental" and "emotional health" as being our perception of all things related to our understanding of "happiness." Moreover, it includes being "self-confident," "self-aware," and of course, being "resilient." Resilient especially under prolonged adversity and duress. In other words, people who are in good "mental and emotional" health" are able to effectively cope with life's challenges and recover from setbacks. However, our "mental and emotional health" is so much more... requires knowledge,
To be mentally and emotionally healthy requires us to have knowledge about ourselves, understanding of our personal faults and personality flaws and being committed to overcoming them. Having said that, a teenager's Mental and Emotional Health is dependent upon many factors, including but not limited to the teen's age, DNA, and upbringing.
Things that affect/effect our Mental and Emotional Health: behavioral problems, personality disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADD/ADHD, chemical and substance dependence, addiction, PTSD, and oppositional defiance disorder. The top residential treatment programs use a treatment combination of adventure therapy, equine therapy, individual and group counseling, 12-step programs, good nutrition, and other ways to help troubled young people in their path to recovery.
- chemical and substance dependence
- oppositional defiance disorder
Residential treatment programs use traditional therapy, experiential learning, wilderness therapy, and a strong 12-step program that helps troubled young girls to develop new skills that will better equip them to deal with the challenges of life.
Furthermore, the best RTC's offer treatment for recurring substance and chemical dependency, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, eating disorders, depression, and others. The school offers parents and other family members to participate in the treatment through working out an aftercare strategy
Troubled Girls – Tips for Helping Depressed Teenage Girls
Different studies show that prior to adolescence, the frequency with which boys and girls get depressed are more or less the same. However, the numbers get skewed dramatically when young people reach their adolescent years.
Teen girls seem to be more likely to experience depression than teen boys. According to statistics by Childstats.gov, about 4.7% of teen boys were reported to have at least one major depressive episode in 2009, compared with 11.7% of teenage girls.
Teen Depression Statistics
According to studies, girls are more likely to hold on to negative emotions rather than boys. They are more likely to dwell on what they felt during difficult situations rather than boys who typically find it easier to forget and let go. Troubled girls are also more likely to experience “relationship stress”.
While boys’ top stressor includes athletics, girls’ stressors usually come from romantic relationships, relationships with their peers, and the situation at home. Statistically speaking, girls are also more likely to experience trauma from childhood sexual abuse than boys.
Spotting Troubled Girls – Is Your Daughter Depressed?
Detecting depression at an early time is very important because depression can have far-reaching effects in a person’s life. Teens who suffer from depression are more likely to commit suicide than teens who engage in substance abuse or engage in risky behavior. Here are a few indicators of teenage depression:
Being overly emotional – Emotional outbursts can indicate different problems. It’s important to be sensitive to the subtle changes in your teen in order to determine if she’s being more emotional than usual. Depressed teens get easily sad and upset, and they may often appear melancholic and cry a lot.
Social isolation – Again, the key is being sensitive to the changes in your teen. Some teens are just naturally shy and would rather stay home than go out with friends. It’s not necessarily an indicator of depression. However, teens who are normally talking on the phone with friends or spending time with them may be suffering from depression if they suddenly isolate themselves.
More irritable than normal – Many teens who are depressed find themselves more intolerant of stressors and irritation than before. If your teen seem more irritable, hostile, and angry recently, it may be an indicator of depression.
Often physically ill – Depression often results to physical manifestations such as frequent hyperacidity, headaches, muscle pain, and similar kinds of physical issues. Oftentimes, there doesn’t seem to be any other (physiological) cause for these physical discomforts.
Talking about suicide – Over the recent years, more parents have become aware that depressed teens who have suicidal tendencies usually talk about their intended suicide with peers and other family members. If you hear your teen talking about this, even if it appears to be in jest, take it seriously. It’s best to err in the side of caution than ignore it and regret it when the damage has already been done.
Lethargic and uninterested in activities – Depressed, troubled girls are often uninterested in doing the things that used to make them happy. They seem uninterested in interacting with family members, they appear to have no energy for anything.
How to help troubled girls with their depression?
Depression changes lives silently and sometimes irrevocably. Parents who see that their teen daughters are depressed often find their efforts to talk to their teens rebuffed and rejected. The key is to be gentle but persistent in your efforts to talk to them. They need to feel safe enough to say what’s really happening with them.
It’s normal for teens to shut out their parents, but it’s important for parents to persist while also making a home environment that is conducive for communication.
It’s also good to know that not all teens know for sure why they feel depressed. In cases like this, telling your teen about the things that you noticed about them that led you to think that they are depressed may be the nudge they need to take a better look at themselves. Teens who are clinically depressed do not usually know what’s causing them to feel that way and are unable to help themselves.
Seeing a therapist and/or a counselor together with providing support for the family can help your troubled teen in a significant way.
What is Bipolar? Could Your Teen be Suffering from Bipolar Disorder?
Typically, the symptoms of bipolar disorder show up during teenage years and early twenties. In rare cases, the symptoms can show up during early childhood. The behavioral patterns of adults with bipolar disorder can be different from those of children.
People with bipolar disorder go through episodes of depression and mania, extreme lows and extreme highs. These are mostly periods of extreme mood swings that have wide arches. People with bipolar disorder are often excessively happy or excessively sad. Here are just a few symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Mania:
- Talks too fast
- Train of thought seems to race
- Has trouble sleeping
- Has delusions of grandeur about one’s self
- Extremely impatient
- Oftentimes displays aggressive and impulsive behavior
- Makes reckless decisions
- Has trouble focusing on one thing
Symptoms of Depression:
- Prolonged melancholy mood
- Prolonged loss of interest in usual activities
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Inability to appreciate pleasure
- Suicidal thoughts
- Prolonged loss of appetite
- Feelings of lethargy
These periods of mania and depression can last for months or weeks and in some cases, people with bipolar disorder alternate between manias and depressive episodes in one day. Because of the effects of the mood swings that they experience, bipolar teens often turn to alcohol and drugs to take the edge off what they are feeling.
Some engage in dangerous activities for the adrenalin high. However, doing these things will actually make the symptoms worse in the long run and can make it harder for doctors to diagnose that they have bipolar disorder.
How Can Parents Help Their Bipolar Teen?
When parents see the symptoms of bipolar disorder in their teen, the first thing that teens need to feel from them is acceptance and support. It can be quite frustrating to live with teens that have bipolar disorder, but it’s not something that can get better just by deciding to feel better. It’s not something that can be solved by sheer willpower.
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, although there are treatments that can help control the symptoms. Like other incurable medical conditions, bipolar teens need to work closely with their doctors and therapists and have a clear teen bipolar treatment plan in order to manage the disorder better.
This treatment plan includes medication and therapy. Teens on bipolar medication must report any changes that they are feeling at any point because the hormonal developments they experience during the adolescent years can affect the way their medication makes them feel.
In order to provide support for their bipolar teenagers, parents are also advised to seek therapy and to educate themselves about the disorder. This helps them put the disorder into perspective and learn ways on how to deal with this as well as how to create a home environment that is conducive to managing the symptoms of the disorder.
In order to help teens with this disorder, parents need to be patient and to constantly make the effort to encourage their teens. Teens need to be able to talk to their parents about their challenges. Parents are also the best people that can help their teens understand more about their disorder and have hope that treatment can help them feel better.
Proper Treatment for Teens with Eating Disorders
Eating disorders affect more than five million Americans each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. More than 90 percent of those afflicted are adolescent and young adult woman between the ages of 12 and 25.
If your daughter is suffering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating, it is important to provide her with the right treatment plan in order to prevent it from worsening or causing serious health problems.
While overcoming an eating disorder may seem challenging, the good news is that treatment is available. There are many effective teen rehab centers or residential treatment centers specifically designed for people with eating disorders.
These types of centers offer customized treatment plans that can help patients manage symptoms, regain a healthy weight, and maintain their physical and mental health.
Unlike wilderness therapy programs or other short-term programs, residential treatment centers provide long-term treatment with trained and caring professionals such as doctors, dietitians, and psychologists. For example, psychological counseling plays an important role in overcoming an eating disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic, psychotherapy can help teens exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones, monitor treatment goals, develop problem-solving skills, learn how to cope with stressful situations, improve situations with others, and improve mood.
Dietitians and other providers are also very helpful in combating eating disorders. Dietitians can help teens understand how nutrition effects their bodies and can help them establish regular eating patterns while taking steps to avoid dieting.
Take the time to research numerous residential treatment centers or therapeutic boarding schools to find the one that is best suits your child and family.
Anorexia - Learn the Signs and Symptoms
Anorexia nervosa is very common, especially among young women in countries such as America where cultural expectations encourage women to be thin. Still, anorexia is a serious condition that requires immediate attention.
What may seem like rebellious behavior may actually be signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. Before you send your child off to Christian youth programs or other therapy programs, watch out for the following signs and symptoms of anorexia.
One of the main signs of anorexia is weight loss. Some people with anorexia lose weight by restricting the amount of food they eat or by exercising excessively. Others with the disease lose weight by bingeing and purging, an unhealthy behavior similar to bulimia.
In addition to weight loss, anorexia has several physical, emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms. Physical symptoms include abnormal blood counts, fatigue, dizziness or fainting, brittle nails, constipation, dry skin, intolerance of cold, low blood pressure, dehydration and absence of menstruation.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms of the disease include flat mood or lack of emotion, difficulty concentrating, refusal to eat, and denial of hunger. Parents usually confuse the emotional and behavioral symptoms of anorexia with drug abuse or other troubled teen behaviors, causing them to send their teens to therapeutic boarding schools instead of residential treatment centers for eating disorders.
However, it is proven that treatment is more successful when the disease is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. To determine whether your child has anorexia, watch for these possible red flags: skipping meals, making excuses for not eating, eating only certain foods low in calories, weighing food, repeated weighing themselves, wearing baggy or layered clothes and complaining about being fat.
While girls boarding schools may seem like a good idea, medical professional recommend residential treatment centers specially designed for people with eating disorders. These centers provide long-term treatment with trained and caring professionals such as doctors, dietitians, and psychologists.
What To Do if You Think Your Teen Might Have Oppositional Defiance Problems?
There are times when every teenager goes through a stage where they become inattentive and oppositional argumentative. They seem to be more absorbed of their own concerns, engrossed with their peers and ignoring what the adults tell them.
However reasonable the adult's demands are, a teen may show a lack of interest and responds with a mean attitude. But then again, this type of oppositional behavior is often expected at the time of adolescence.
However, there are cases of teens having oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) where it is often mistaken as a normal defiant behavior among teens. It is not very easy to distinguish ODD from that of a normal oppositional behavior but usually, the symptoms are more exaggerated in a form where their extreme defiant behavior affects their day to day life.
Signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Teens
- displays a pattern of hostile, defiant and uncooperative behavior against authority figures (parents, teachers, police, and adults in the community)
- loses temper regularly and often seeks revenge
- actively violates adult rules, refuse their requests and regularly argues with them in a provocative, belligerent or disrespectful manner
- intentionally annoys other people and may engage in a moderate physical aggression
- the language used is more offensive and destructive compared to ordinary teens were difficult to soothe and often fussy or cranky as infants
- had extreme temper tantrums as toddlers
- winning arguments are very important for them (they'd rather sacrifice their privileges than losing an argument)
- can be silently uncooperative and resistant in school while they are mostly argumentative at home
- unable to admit their mistakes and difficulties but blame it on others instead
- always questions the rules and dares those they consider unreasonable
If your teens have shown most of these signs and you may think that they have ODD or have been diagnosed with the disorder, then consider the following tips:
- Educate yourself with ODD, understand the disorder and what triggers the behavior.
- Establishing a good relationship with your teen by planning activities to help you bond with parent and child.
- Think of specific activities that your teen might enjoy and do this with them in order to build a rapport with you. Once there's an open line of communication between the both of you, then there tend to be fewer conflict problems in your relationship.
- Look for a professional help such as a licensed psychologist and schedule regular therapy sessions for your teen. Join in on some of the sessions when needed and advised. This will encourage them to participate in therapies needed to manage their anger, improve their social skills and learn how to cope with stressful situations. It is important to stay involved for your teen's positive change.
- Also ask for advice from a psychiatrist if further prescribed medications are needed, especially if your teens already have violent tendencies like endangering themselves or others and if there are accompanying emotional behaviors like ADHD, OCD and anxiety disorders.
- Make sure to have a journal and note any event or instances where your teen's defiant behavior is triggered.
- Acknowledge your teen's positive behaviors whenever they do something good instead of always noticing their defiance and misbehaviors. Offer rewards for every good behavior completed.
- Be aware of where your teen is at all time, so monitoring them without hovering too much is important.
- Know the parents of your teen's friends and be open to them about your teen's behavior and what triggers it so that they will be informed in case your teen goes over to visit their friends.
- Remember to not fight back whenever your teen argues with you. Your teens are already defiant by nature and by fighting back, you will encourage the negative behavior to come out. Always pick your battles with them.
- Try natural therapy programs which may help in stabilizing your teen’s defiant behavior. Equine therapy, for example, involves caring for horses and encourages your teens to be gentle and be more respectful to living creatures.
- There are those which involve pet-assisted therapies to help those with behavior problems be able to focus on the animals instead of themselves or their defiant emotions.
Residential Treatment Programs Benefit Teens with Borderline Personality Disorder
Depending on the specific symptoms or diagnoses of your troubled teen, he or she may require the structure of a residential treatment facility.
In the case of a teen with borderline personality disorder, a residential treatment program is a practical solution because it offers proper medical treatment in a focused and consistent environment. The following is a brief look at how residential treatment programs can offer hope to troubled teens with this controversial and under-researched disorder.
Borderline personality disorder is characterized by impulsivity and instability in mood, self-image and personal relationships. Patients with borderline personality disorder are extremely challenging to treat because of constant mood swings that include periods of suicidal or self-injurious behavior.
They are also well-known for being manipulative, expressing uncontrolled anger and taking frantic actions to avoid abandonment. When a person suffers from borderline personality disorder, it causes problems for both the individual who has the disorder as well as his or her close family and friends.
However, residential treatment programs provide a consistent environment with firm boundaries-an important step in treating someone with borderline personality. For example, from the beginning of treatment, professional therapists are able to communicate clear expectations for both the patient's therapeutic and medical treatments.
Patients are then praised for good behavior and receive appropriate consequences for negative behavior. In addition, experienced therapists can provide consistent, non-emotional reactions in contrast to the patient's dramatic tendencies or attempts at manipulation.
Moreover, therapists at residential treatment facilities or similar Christian boarding schools are able to offer appropriate psychotherapeutic techniques such as reality checks that help increase her self-awareness.
While it may be difficult for a parent or loved one to hold a teen accountable for their actions, a professional therapist has the experience and knowledge to hold the patient to their contract.
Teens can learn to be responsible for their actions, interactions, and health. Due to these and many other reasons, a residential treatment program can open the door to more effective medical treatment and, consequently, long-term safety and health.
Find Residential Adolescent Treatment
Some Residential adolescent treatment centers are lock down centers, and some are not. Centers with a lockdown policy restrict the movement of their patients. It can mean being locked in a room or allowed restricted movement in a building.
Some centers take away the shoes of residents at night to deter from running away. Unlocked residential treatment facilities allow residents to move about the compound but are only allowed to leave the facilities in selected circumstances.
It’s quite different from residential educational programs like therapeutic boarding schools where troubled teens can live and study together in a family-style environment, away from their homes.
Residential adolescent treatment centers are more applicable for teens who need intensive treatment for multiple conditions, especially those related to drug and alcohol addiction or stemming from mental illnesses.
Adolescent treatment centers, wilderness therapy programs, and therapeutic boarding schools are all potential options for troubled teens.
The top residential treatment programs use a combination of adventure therapy, equine therapy, challenge programs, 12-step programs, good nutrition, and other ways to help troubled young people in their path to recovery.
The residential treatment uses a combination of experiential learning, wilderness therapy, and a strong 12-step program that helps troubled young girls to develop new skills that will better equip them to deal with the challenges of life.
Furthermore, RTC's offer treatment for recurring substance and chemical dependency, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, eating disorders, depression, and others. The school offers parents and other family members to participate in the treatment through working out an aftercare strategy.
Behavioral Disorders Are Highly Disruptive
The most common reason parents enroll their troubled teen into a residential treatment program. The status of our mental and emotional heath can be tested and measured through mental health assessments conducted by licensed clinicians.
Some Behavioral Disorders are...
- Anxiety disorder
- Disruptive behavioral disorder
- Dissociative disorder
- Emotional disorders
- Pervasive developmental disorders
- Emotional health is the measurable status of our wellbeing.
Emotional health is key to being whole, balanced, and fulfilled. A healthy emotional status is the ability to take a punch, and after getting knocked down you get right back up and keep fighting.
Cutting Behavior in Teens
One of the most frightening behaviors that a parent can observe in their teenage son or daughter is the deliberate slashing of their skin with razors, knives or other sharp objects. Known as "cutting," this is seen frequently in therapy for troubled teens. Young adults cut themselves because they are sad or depressed. They might not even know why they are doing it, but over time they can even become addicted to the process of cutting themselves and not be able to stop doing it.
Teens who cut themselves (more commonly girls but not limited by gender) do so because they are feeling depressed, upset or in other intense emotional pain but lack the ability to adequately express their feelings or cope with them. Cutting becomes a physical way to express their inward emotions and over time can become a compulsive behavior; teens at youth treatment centers throughout the country are dealing with the obsession to cut themselves as a way to relieve their inner emotional pain.
Studies show that up to three million people each year self-injure themselves. That's a staggering amount, considering the immense physical and emotional harm they are doing to themselves through cutting and other forms of self-injury. Other forms of self-inflicted harm include pulling out hair, punching yourself, intentionally breaking bones and burning your own body with cigarettes or other objects. Because of the underlying mental health problems that come with self-mutilation, teens who self-injure are also more likely to have the types of serious drug or alcohol problems that are found in teen rehab centers.
If you are a teenager or a parent of a teen who has turned to cutting to find comfort or relief from emotional pain, it's important to seek help before the situation becomes critical. Residential treatment facilities can help teens deal with their emotional distress and help them discover ways to cope with the types of stressors that cause them to cut in the first place. For many teens that cut, admitting that they have a problem is the hardest step in the process, but it's one that can lead to getting the help they need to live healthy and productive lives.
Watch out for Self-Harming Behavior, Like Cutting
Programs for troubled teens treat and counsel different kids from many different backgrounds and all of them come into the program with their own unique set of mental and emotional health issues.
While one teen may be dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies another may suffer from an eating disorder and anxiety. However, the number one reason parents admit their child into a treatment program is the discovery of the child's self-harming behavior.
The top therapeutic programs are not designed to be "one-size-fits-all," and only the very best programs tailor their treatment protocols to fit the specific mental health needs of each student.
According to Janette Davenport, licensed therapist at New Haven Residential Treatment Center, self-harm includes any behavior designed to provide relief from emotional pain through the self-inflicted physical pain.
If your child demonstrates a willingness to engage in the self-harmful behavior, it is important to get him/her professional help to avoid the negative disruptive tendencies of mental health related problems.
Meaning, when it comes to mental and emotional health, don't mess around and act promptly after discovering a pattern of self-harming behaviors. These kinds of issues are not phases your child will grow out of, and the problematic nature of the issues just don't go away by themselves.
What is Behind "Self-harming Behavior?"
There are many reasons that people struggle with self-harm. For the most part, these individuals have gone through some sort of trauma in the past including emotional or physical abuse, death or divorce. Others have weak coping skills or suffer from a mental disorder.
A common form of self-harm includes cutting with various tools such as knives, razors or other sharp objects. Other types of self-harm include burning or bruising oneself as well as pulling hard, hitting or receiving multiple tattoos in an effort to inflict pain.
Therapists suggest that the best type of treatment for self-harm behaviors is helping the teen express and talk about their pain. Residential treatment programs such as Christian boarding schools can offer a safe place for your teen to not only talk about their pain but gain perspective and understanding of it.
Since many people have trouble expressing themselves verbally, environments such as wilderness programs or therapy sessions where students are encouraged to write, draw or paint to release their pain are helpful and healthy forms of expression. In addition, these residential treatment programs teach teens new coping strategies to deal with emotional pain.