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Category: Depression & Anxiety

How to Cure Depression in Teens

Programs for Troubled Youth in Washington State

Spot the Signs of Depression and Isolation

Depression can be hard to spot, especially in teens or young adults who are already known to be moody, hostile, or reckless. All young adults are going to exhibit some of the symptoms some of the time—that’s just part of the growing pains of transitioning into an adult. But, when these signs remain persistent and begin to impact daily functioning, it is time to intervene and address the issue. There is no easy or fast cure for depression in teens, however being aware and knowing what to look for is the first step for parents to take.

The First Step: Know What To Look For

Depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. For teens and young adults, it can manifest in a variety of negative ways, such a self-harm, sexual behavior, or drug and alcohol use. But it’s not always manifested by “acting out,” young adults can also become withdrawn and isolated when suffering from depression. Detecting depression is difficult, especially when teens already tend to push parents away, but if they exhibit multiple warning signs, it’s crucial that a parent or loved one steps in.

Warning signs of depression include:

  • Anger or irritability (especially in young men)
  • Withdrawn or isolated
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Hostile, grumpy, or easily loses temper
  • Loss of energy
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Reckless behavior
  • Unexplained aches and pains: headaches, sore backs, achy joints
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Talk of suicide
A Parent’s Love Is Not Enough

Despite best efforts, a parent or loved one’s support is often not enough. Reaching out for professional help is the first step in helping a teen or young adult overcome depression.

If a parent recognizes depression or isolation in their child, most of the time hearing it from them won’t work to affect any change. They need to hear it from an outside perspective, like a peer or therapy instructor, because no matter how much a parent loves them, hearing it from them alone is not going to be enough for the message to sink in.

What To Do: Get Third-Party Help

There are often broken or unhealthy family relationship dynamics at play. A young adult’s depression can create an unbalanced structure within the home—especially when it manifests as anger and hostility. In attempting to communicate, tensions usually run high and tempers often reach the boiling point. Over time, this could create a vicious parent-child cycle that needs intervention. An external influence can help to restructure these relationships and provide communication tools that can be used going forward.

Getting better also requires understanding the underlying cause. In these circumstances, parents and children rarely have a clear perspective on the situation, which makes pinpointing the underlying cause next to impossible. Furthermore, the cause of their depression may not be something a teen or young adult wants to share with their parents. A therapist can work to identify and address the underlying issues that cause depression and can help to develop the management and coping skills needed to overcome them.

Sometimes overcoming depression requires being completely removed from the destructive environment. A treatment program, like wilderness therapy, provides an opportunity to break the cycle of depression and make drastic lifestyle changes. In nature, and with the support of peers and instructors, young adults are able to open up about their issues and begin to understand where their hostility and anger stem from. And nature is an environment where transformative change can really take hold. Depression may always be a struggle for certain young adults, but with tools and lifestyle changes that wilderness therapy brings, it can be managed in a healthy way.

With teens and young adults, recognizing the symptoms of depression is the first key step to recovery. If parents and family members are aware of the signs and vigilant, they can immediately seek the outside help of trained professionals, and consider various treatment options. Recovering from depression isn’t easy: for the young adult or for their family, but early detection can help one the challenges of suffering in isolation.

Take any talk of suicide seriously. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 and provides free assistance and support. Reach it by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For more information and suggestions and how to cure depression in teens, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

Natural Treatment for Anxiety through Wilderness Therapy

Summer Weight Loss Camp for Kids in the Northwest

How Exercise Combats Anxiety

Everybody feels stress and anxiety at some point in their life. When feelings of anxiety deepen and persist to the point that they are impacting a person’s wellbeing, it is time to seek solutions. Physical activity is a natural treatment for anxiety and is highly effective in reducing the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

What is anxiety?

In general, anxiety is characterized by excessive feelings of worry and fear. It manifests differently in individuals and depends on a combination of factors including genetics, brain chemistry, environment, physical activity, diet, drug use and medical history.

There are a group of mental disorders that surround anxiety, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Phobic disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • PTSD
  • Separation anxiety
  • Situational anxiety

A person may experience emotions that range in intensity from nervousness to an anxiety or panic attack. Left untreated, anxiety can lead to a number of other mental and behavioral issues such as depression.

The general symptoms associated with anxiety disorders include:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability

The negative impacts of suffering from an anxiety disorder extend to an individual’s personality and ability to carry out daily life. They may avoid activities or group situations they once took pleasure in and may become anti-social.  Persistent anxiety may result in undesirable changes in a person’s perception of life and they may appear to be constantly “on edge.”

Physical exercise works to alleviate anxiety.

Regular physical activity is a simple and highly successful way to manage and cope with anxiety. Exercise produces endorphins—natural brain chemicals—that work to inhibit the perception of pain and stress, treating anxiety by improving or eliminating the symptoms associated with it. Endorphins increase feelings of euphoria, thus reducing the irritability that comes with anxiety. 

Regular exercise:

  • Reduces fatigue
  • Improves alertness and concentration
  • Enhance cognitive functioning
  • Elevates and regulates mood
  • Decreases muscle tension 

A comprehensive treatment plan for anxiety is one that includes physical activity in conjunction with traditional therapy. 

A treatment program, such as wilderness therapy, that combines physical activity and holistic nutrition with additional treatment methods is the most successful way to treat anxiety. Overcoming the trials of different physical tasks experienced during a wilderness therapy program is empowering and creates an opportunity for an individual who suffers from anxiety to build the self-confidence and self-reliance needed to manage their condition. Exercise is a healthy, natural way to manage and cope with anxiety and stress related disorders, and can take the place of medication in many instances. 

At Rites of Passage Wilderness, we provide a large assortment of wilderness therapy programs which include physical activity and as such, are considered to be a natural treatment for anxiety. Call us at (800)794-0980 to learn more about our programs and to register.

How To Fight Depression With Healthy Eating and Exercise

Almost everyone feels depressed at some time, but when these feelings begin to negatively impact daily life it is time to address the source of the problem. Diet and exercise play a significant role in both contributing to feelings of depression and also in alleviating the symptoms. When trying to best determine how to fight depression, a healthy diet and regular exercise is a key component to successfully managing a depressive disorder.

What is depression?

Depression is a serious illness affecting both the body and mind. When feelings of sadness and hopelessness turn to overwhelming despair, and extend past the point of being able to engage positively in daily life, depression may be the cause. There are many forms of depressive disorders, including: seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bipolar disorder and dysthymic disorder.

The general symptoms of depression are:

  • Continual feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness
  • Negative feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Thoughts of helplessness, worthlessness or guilt
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Inability to concentrate or remember
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Dietary problems
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Aches, pains, headaches, muscle cramps

The underlying causes of depression are a combination of factors that are genetic, environmental and circumstantial, and are influenced by diet, activity level, family history, medical past, social conditions and life events.

The effects of poor nutrition and lack of exercise on depression

Poor diet and lack of physical activity aggravate the symptoms that cause depression. Ingesting high quantities of sugar, gluten, food additives and processed foods hinder the body’s ability to regulate brain chemistry and manage the feelings associated with depression.  Serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that directs messages within the brain and body, are affected by diet and exercise. As are dopamine and cortisol—the brain chemicals associated with pleasure and reward and stress—thus contributing to feelings of fatigue, decreased energy, mental confusion and sadness.

Making the switch to a regular exercise plan and holistic diet is a significant factor in treating and managing depression.

Proper diet and exercise allow the brain to create and regulate the appropriate amount of serotonin, dopamine and cortisol, which affect nearly every symptom associated with depression. In some instances, a positive change in diet and exercise results in the disappearance of symptoms, suggesting that diet and physical activity can be the most significant factors contributing to depression in some individuals.

Wilderness therapy combines physical activity and holistic nutrition with traditional therapeutic methods, and is an extremely effective way of treating depression.

Fresh air and sunlight, which help to alleviate feelings of depression, are also part of the natural setting of wilderness therapy. In combination with cognitive and behavioral therapies, the diet and exercise plan that comes with wilderness therapy is directed towards empowering participants to carry forward changes made in treatment. Hiking, carrying equipment and the physical challenges that come from living in nature are combined with a diet focused around holistic nutrition. It is not long before participants start to see the dramatic effects that diet and exercise can have on their body and mind, and find continuing these habits in aftercare instrumental in allowing them to self-manage their symptoms.

Rites of Passage can help to teach how to fight depression in a safe and healthy way. Call us at (800)794-0980 to learn more about our programs.