Breaking Free From DMDD with Wilderness Therapy

Breaking Free From DMDD with Wilderness Therapy

Understanding DMDD

Overwhelm is a normal sensation for all of us, especially in instances of trauma or emotional situations beyond our control, but when overwhelm becomes the normal state of being for your teen, you may be dealing with something called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD). A near kin to Bipolar Disorder, DMDD manifests itself in a chronic irritableness punctuated by severe outbursts that are disproportionate to the current situation. Where Bipolar Disorder will swing from extreme highs to extreme lows, DMDD will consistently sizzle with irritability until finally boiling over with an angry outburst.

To be diagnosed with Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, your teen’s ongoing anger or irritability must be present with both authority figures and peers even between outbursts. This is such an exhausting way to live, and the inability to control these negative emotions can often make them even worse.

Treating DMDD

The exact cause of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder remains unknown, but like many mental health issues, it is treatable and manageable with the right tools. Some cases of DMDD may require medication along with therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a very effective treatment that helps someone recognize the underlying beliefs that motivate their emotional reactions which spur their decision making. By understanding why we feel the way we do in certain situations, we can work to change those underlying beliefs and open up new possibilities for decision making.

Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of CBT that works to create a dialogue between accepting ourselves as we are and seeking the change that we desire in an effort to create a whole new way of being. At Rites of Passage Wilderness Therapy, our professional, licensed therapists use both of the strategies and more to help your teen recover their sense of control and autonomy while learning to manage their DMDD.

Finding Solace in the Wilderness

Our nomadic backpacking program is unique among Washington teen therapy programs because nature is not merely the setting for our treatment but genuinely part of the holistic solution. More and more, the power of nature is being recognized for its ability to harmonize our mental and emotional states with its own natural rhythms. After all, we don’t stand apart from nature; rather, we are an integral part of it.

The wilderness is a particularly effective container for treating DMDD because it has the capacity to absorb all the anger and irritability we can throw at it without reflecting it back in a pattern of escalation so typical among our social relationships back home.

It is in this setting of natural rhythms and grounding that our therapists will work with your teen in individual and group settings to learn how to manage their DMDD and live in control of their own lives. While backpacking throughout the Olympic National Park and surrounding National Forests, they will learn new outdoor skills, setting up camp and cooking for themselves. They will function within a team of peers learning to meet challenges and face fears in community.

More than just another wilderness therapy program for youth, we offer a true Rite of Passage into a whole new way of being in the world. To learn more, please call us at (360) 927-6404 or email us at roptherapy@gmail.com. We are conveniently located near Seattle, Washington, and we’re to help.