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Adolescence Communication Feelings Mental Health Parenting

Supporting LGBTQ Teen Mental Health

LGBTQ youth (teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning/queer) are far more likely to experience victimization because of their identity, are far more likely to struggle with symptoms of mental illness, and are far more likely to resort to self-harm and suicide. With all of these variables at play, it’s essential to support LGBTQ teen mental health to provide help, empowerment, and growth.

These statistics are not inherent to being queer, but they are often a side effect of identifying as part of the LGBTQ community or living under circumstances that force repression and self-hatred. Getting help can be difficult, especially when teens worry about or fear the repercussions of coming out as LGBTQ or struggle with acknowledging their identity.

Acceptance goes a long way. Mental health rates and suicide have gone down among gay and lesbian teens, although they are still above the rates for their straight peers. In the same vein, suicide rates remained highest among trans teens, especially in the wake of a rise in violence against LGBTQ youth and continued attacks on LGBTQ groups – especially trans individuals – in both media and politics in America.

Helping your LGBTQ teen get the support they need to lead a fulfilling and happy life can be difficult, but it can be done. The resources are there, and the communities exist, both locally and online. You are not alone, whether as a teen or as a parent.

Beware of Conversion Schemes

Seeking help is an important part of getting better, whether you initiate it with your teen or through your teen’s own research. But with the desperation of wanting treatment comes the vulnerability that leads thousands of teens and parents into the trap of conversion therapy.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, research shows that conversion therapy is unethical and harmful to children and teens. It does not work and only causes lasting psychological trauma as a result. It is under no circumstances a form of “therapy” to begin with, and it is, with good reason, banned in 19 different states and jurisdictions.

Finding a Therapist with Knowledge of LGBTQ Teen Mental Health

The best thing you can do for your teen’s well-being, and to help your teen cope with the growing mental stressors associated with coming out as an LGBTQ+ individual, is to accept them as they are and, if they are struggling with their mental health, find a professional therapist or psychiatrist who has a history of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ teens, and/or LGBTQ teen mental health.

A therapist with a personal history and knowledge of the different struggles that LGBTQ teens go through today may be able to have more success in helping your teen find treatment than someone with no experience with LGBTQ.

Just as personal representation in media can make a difference for many teens and adults who feel invisible in a heteronormative culture, working with a mental health professional who has personal experiences in the LGBTQ community to draw on or can better relate to your teen professionally through their LGBTQ identity may be a better fit for them.

Comfort is important when choosing your therapist. A gay man or a trans woman may have a better idea of what it is like to be in your teen’s shoes, in addition to their professional training and academic experience as psychologists and therapists, to help identify valid treatment options, root out local resources, and help cope with individual stressors.

How You Can Help Your Teen

There are countless ways in which parents contribute to their teens’ well-being, knowingly and unknowingly.

While professional treatment is important, especially in the event of self-harm, suicidal episodes, or debilitating mental health symptoms, parents should never underestimate the significance of their influence and supportive parenting, nor should they lose sight of how their actions and behaviors continue to shape their teens’ lives. Here are a few things you could do or are doing that can continue to help your teen with their mental health.

  • Let your teen know they’re loved unconditionally.
  • Talk to them and hear them out. Listen to their thoughts and words.
  • Spend time getting to know their interests a little better. Spending time with your teen and showing interest in what they like can help them feel more comfortable talking to you about other things, and helps them understand that you aren’t out to judge them as many others might be.
  • Review your misconceptions. Well-meaning intentions may lead to ideas and sayings that are actively hurting your teen. For example, don’t shrug off their identity or their mental health issues as “just a phase.” Learning more about gender identities and sexual orientation can help you relate to your teen and avoid alienating them.
  • Advocate at school. Not all schools have LGBTQ+ ally groups or LGBTQ-friendly student bodies, but all schools have LGBTQ teens. Talk to teachers and parents about organizing queer-straight alliance organizations to help LGBTQ teens in your community feel welcome, and to reduce victimization.
  • Talk to the teachers. Teachers can be a good source of information about what’s going on at school. Your teen might not always be forthcoming about what’s going on at school, especially if they’re being hurt or bullied. They may blame themselves or feel ashamed.
  • Get into therapy together. If your teen is struggling with depression or anxious thoughts or has a history of self-harm, then getting help can be daunting. Mental illness, in particular, has a way of feeding on self-doubt and shame, and many teens who know they need help may be reluctant to get it. Encourage them by making an appointment together and tagging along the first few times. Alternatively, look into remote online therapy as an option, to begin with.
  • Give them privacy. Being there for your teen is important, but there’s a difference between being aware of what’s going on in their lives and spying without their consent. If you try to monitor all of your teen’s online activities, for example, they’re just more likely to go to greater lengths to establish secret accounts or carve out some other niche of privacy and foster resentment. The best way to keep your teen from keeping too many secrets from you is to ensure they know you’re always available to talk to and are willing to listen.

LGBTQ Teen Mental Health Services at Visions

Being a parent is hard, and it can be harder yet when your teen is struggling with depressive or anxious thoughts. LGBTQ+ teens are just like any other teen but are much more at-risk for mental health issues, often as an indirect result of their identity. Helping them protect themselves, know they are loved, develop stronger self-esteem, and feel proud in their own skin can go a long way towards helping them feel better.

If you or a loved one is seeking additional information on LGBTQ teen mental health, reach out to us. At Visions Treatment Centers, we offer unique mental health programming for LGBTQ+ teens, addressing many issues often found in the LGBTQ+ community.

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Mental Health Therapy

Is Online Therapy for Teens Effective?

Online therapy, whether it be for teens, children, or adults, is used to describe any professional treatment plan applied remotely through a credentialled teletherapy program. While online and phone-based therapy programs have been available for years, they have become much more popular with the advent of voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) technologies, cheap/free videoconferencing tools, and online chat rooms. But, specifically speaking, how does online therapy for teens work? And is it effective?

Credentialed and licensed professional therapists can offer online therapy sessions to clients via safe and secure networks on websites, over the phone, or through special apps. While certain forms of teletherapy are relatively novel, the treatment process itself – remote, voice-based, or video therapy sessions – is heavily researched. Current studies show that teletherapy is not just effective but can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy.

However, there are pros and cons, as well as security and privacy concerns. Online therapy can be an amazing alternative to face-to-face therapy for a number of different teens, including teens with agoraphobia, teens who are uncomfortable with their initial therapy sessions, teens who struggle with face-to-face communication and prefer text or chatting, and other cases.

But it’s important to do your research. Online vulnerabilities can result in a loss of privacy or the leak of private information. It is important to seek out an online therapy service that prioritizes data protection, patient privacy, and is properly credentialed, in addition to providing an ethical and qualitative healthcare service as an experienced therapist.

Does Teletherapy Work?

We know that teletherapy works. However, whether it works equally for everyone is never a guarantee. Some patients respond better to teletherapy than face-to-face therapy sessions. Some patients are the opposite. In some cases, patients respond best to a treatment plan that begins with teletherapy and then segues into traditional therapy sessions. Figuring out a patient’s needs and making the necessary recommendations to alter their treatment is part of every therapist’s job description.

Online Therapy for Mental Health

Teletherapy has been implemented for the treatment of multiple psychological and physical conditions. Telehealth services, whether consulting a patient on at-home pain management techniques during a flare-up of chronic pain, to providing regularly scheduled therapy for depressive symptoms or symptoms of anxiety, have also grown and become more popular over time, including businesses utilizing the telehealth model such as BetterHelp and Talkspace.

Telehealth has become even more vital over the course of the COVID pandemic, as an alternative to traditional therapy, and a way for clients to continue to communicate with their therapist while maintaining safe social distancing practices.

Who Has Access to Teletherapy Services?

These practices have not been without controversy. Not all patients can adequately access teletherapy services due to a lack of personal technical knowledge. Some websites are not safe, not properly credentialed, or do not host professional staff. People who seek teletherapy services are often vulnerable and in need of immediate help. This makes them more likely to be affected by Internet scammers looking to steal private information.

Some problems are less obvious. BetterHelp, for example, landed itself in hot water recently for advertising itself as a matchmaking business between patients and healthcare professionals in YouTube influencer spots. However, the company’s own terms and conditions do not guarantee the help of a mental health professional, nor do they speak to the quality of their so-called “Counselors.”

If you are interested in making the most of a telehealth feature, be sure to utilize the services of a private practice, a mental health clinic, or a credentialed psychiatrist or therapist.

Be sure about the qualifications, experience, and reputation of the professional you wish to work with. Like any other therapy service, it is important that you feel comfortable and confident in your choice of therapist.

How Is Online Therapy for Teens Structured?

Online therapy programs differ from provider to provider. In general, non-public platforms are used to communicate with patients and provide specialized, one-on-one care. These include therapy-specific web platforms, as well as common teleconferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom.

Online Therapy and Privacy

In the case of a general-purpose meeting software or business communications platform, passwords and individualized invite links are usually used to ensure privacy. Only platforms that are HIPAA-compliant may be used for telehealth services, including professional teletherapy. That means utilizing only platforms that have the minimum security and encryption standards needed to keep others from easily listening in on your therapy sessions.

Techniques in Online Therapy

Different forms of therapy have been proven effective over online therapy platforms, most importantly including cognitive behavioral therapy.

Your online therapy will be structured according to your needs. That might mean one session per week or as many as five or six weekly sessions. Sessions could be shorter or longer. Some therapists include the use of visual aids, such as PowerPoint presentations and infographics to help teach patients about different treatment techniques, coping mechanisms, and recovery skills. The number of online sessions you require will also differ depending on the severity of your condition, the nature of your diagnosis, and the professional opinions of your psychiatrist.

The First Online Session

Your first few sessions might feel a little awkward. Here are some important tips to make the most out of online therapy:

  • Use headphones. Not only does that keep your conversation private, but it can help keep out distracting noises.
  • Find a well-lit but quiet part of the house where you can start your therapy in private. A room with a lock and a window, for example.
  • If you are using your phone, try to get a tripod or phone stand. This way, your hand won’t get tired from holding the device, and you can use both hands for note-taking.
  • Consider getting a notebook to take notes for your therapy and continued recovery. Writing can be helpful in reviewing what you’ve written in the future, but it can also help to keep your therapy lessons fresh in mind.

Most qualified examples of online therapy utilize the professional services of a credentialed therapist. However, there are also therapy-like services offered by websites using trained chatbots or non-professional chatting companions. While some studies do show that teens have successfully used these programs and chatbots to help soothe emotional distress, they are far less effective than a professional service.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Therapy for Teens?

There are a few distinct advantages and potential disadvantages to utilizing online therapy for teens.

  • Online therapy is an effective alternative for teens in rural areas or where access to mental healthcare is limited.
  • Online therapy is especially helpful for teens who are immunocompromised or struggling with a different chronic health condition and might not want to risk infection.
  • Teletherapy services might be cheaper than an outpatient program while offering many of the same perks.
  • Online therapy might feel more comfortable to you if you are anxious about visiting a therapist’s office or need to rely on someone else for transportation.
  • You may feel more comfortable with private online therapy and may be able to start seeking help without necessarily alerting your family.

However, there are also potential disadvantages to utilizing online therapy for teens.

  • Telehealth services, including teletherapy, are not always covered by insurance.
  • Some people benefit more greatly from face-to-face treatment. There are limitations to voice-only or screen-based therapy for certain people.
  • Online communication requires good verbal and text skills. Your teen might not be able to fully convey how they feel without body language, which can be frustrating.

Looking for Online Therapy for Teens?

Should you consider online therapy as an option for yourself or your teen? Under most circumstances, yes. If you or your loved one might feel more comfortable starting treatment through an online therapy program, then it is certainly an idea worth pursuing, and they can still transition into face-to-face therapy or an outpatient program in the future.

For more information about Visions Treatment Centers and online therapy for teens, get in contact with us today.

Categories
Mental Health

6 Signs of Dissociative Identity Disorder in Teens

Dissociative identity disorder is sometimes confused for schizophrenia, but the two are very different, albeit equally severe mental health disorders. To understand dissociative identity disorder in teens, what it looks like in teenagers, and how to treat it, we need to understand dissociation and why it happens.

Dissociative identity disorder, or DID, used to be called “multiple personality” disorder. While fragmented personas and “alters” are still a common element in cases of DID, it’s important to emphasize that our understanding of DID is not centered around the idea of multiple people in one body, but a fragmented psyche, usually as the result of a traumatic event.

What Is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

The central characteristic of dissociative identity disorder is dissociation, usually in response to a traumatic event. Dissociation is characterized as a separation or distancing between a person and their perspective on reality. In one example of dissociation, a person might “check out” in moments of stress, appearing nonresponsive or different somehow. When they’re “back,” they might have no recollection of dissociating and might even experience holes in their memory. In cases of dissociative identity disorder, a person’s dissociation extends to the degree that they become someone else for a while.

Dissociative Identity Disorder vs Psychosis

It is not necessarily the same as psychosis, where a person’s perception of reality is altered significantly through delusions or hallucinations; however, the outside similarities between the two – in the sense that people who dissociate and people who experience psychosis are not entirely present – is what often leads people to conflate conditions like schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder with split personalities or dissociative disorders.

As a result, mental health professionals believe that dissociative personality disorder is currently underdiagnosed and may be mistaken for another similar mental health condition. Currently, about 1 percent of the general population experiences dissociative identity disorder, with rates being significantly higher in clinical settings.

Dissociation as a Defensive Mechanism

In a way, dissociation can be understood as a defensive mechanism after a significantly traumatic event. People who dissociate do so to protect themselves from the reality of their situation and their circumstances. However, these dissociative symptoms can last for a long time and continue to impact a person’s mind even long after the original danger has passed. This is the prime characteristic of trauma – like mental scarring, trauma means reacting, unknowingly and unwittingly, as though the past is recurring or as though what happened is always imminent.

Not everyone dissociates after trauma – dissociation is just one of the ways in which the mind might react to something horrifying or impactful.

Signs and Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder in Teens

Recognizing dissociation in our loved ones is important because treatments for dissociative identity disorder are effective but take time and patience to work. Helping someone heal from their trauma, cope in healthier ways, and develop a consistent and unified personality can help them avoid the negative consequences of dissociative identity disorder, including memory loss, social anxietydepressive thoughts, and mood swings.

Teens with dissociative identity disorder don’t behave like stereotypes from movies. There is a spectrum of symptoms involved in cases of DID, and not every case is alike. While representations of DID in media have improved in recent years, it’s important to differentiate reality from fiction. Some common signs of dissociative identity disorder in teens include:

1. Separate and Distinct Personalities

The defining symptom of dissociative identity disorder is the presence of two or more distinctly different personality states. In many cases, people develop multiple different personalities, upwards of five. Each one of these personalities, or alters, will have its own distinct age, name, gender, memories, and behavior.

Switching from one alter to another may occur randomly, although the switch usually happens in response to a stressor, whether it’s a traumatic trigger or some other mental stimulation, including drug use. Alters usually do not share memories and may not always be aware of each other. This means that teens with dissociative identity disorder suffer from memory gaps and frequent bouts of amnesia.

2. Memory Issues and Amnesia

In addition to changing personalities, accompanying memory problems are another common aspect of dissociative identity disorder. Teens affected by DID are not acting out as other people – their mind compartmentalizes moments in time, experiencing them as different individuals and not always letting these experiences interact with each other.

If we think of dissociation as a protective mechanism, we can imagine it like a series of filters – swapping one filter for another, sometimes in response to a person’s surroundings, so the “right” filter captures the experience, rather than having one filter experience everything at once.

As a result of these swaps, however, teens with dissociative identity disorder might not have a coherent understanding of their day-to-day.

3. Intrusive or Unwanted Thoughts

Intrusive or unwanted thoughts are, to a degree, normal. We all experience a fleeting moment of thinking about something we did not want to think about or were surprised to think about. However, some mental health conditions can exacerbate the frequency and severity of these thoughts to the point that they almost feel compulsive.

Dissociative identity disorder can suffer from unwanted thoughts, usually in the form of recurring memories or flashbacks, sudden traumatic remembrances, or unwanted shifts in thinking, such as an outburst of anger or sadness.

4. Social Anxiety

Dissociative identity disorder can be a very socially disabling condition. It is difficult for people to manage friendships and relationships while struggling with DID, and poor experiences can further feed a growing sense of social anxiety as a result of these symptoms.

These anxious thoughts can trigger and worsen traumatic stressors and make the mind more sensitive to such stressors. Some personalities within a teen may be more confident than others, but social anxiety is still a common symptom.

5. Depressive Symptoms

Depressive symptoms, including symptoms of self-harm and suicidal ideation/suicidal attempts, are also unfortunately common in cases of DID. Furthermore, reports that as many as 70 percent of patients in treatment for DID attempt suicide at one point or another, meaning the unknown statistic may be even higher.

6. Substance Use

Dissociative identity disorder correlates strongly with substance use, at times as a form of self-medication or just for recreational purposes.

Sadly, drug use can further amplify the effects and symptoms of DID, as well as suicidal ideation, depressive thinking, and anxiety.

Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder in Teens

Patients with dissociative identity disorder may require outpatient or inpatient residential treatment to see long-term success. In addition to their dissociative and trauma-related symptoms, teen patients with DID may struggle with suicidal thoughts, drug use, and anxiety.

A holistic treatment plan addressing multiple symptoms and co-occurring disorders is often necessary. To that end, a teen with DID may undergo trauma-specific individual and group therapy, in addition to taking medication to help reduce their symptoms.

An inpatient or outpatient facility can help provide structure in a teen’s treatment and give them the medical and psychiatric attention they need, while providing a safe or comfortable home environment, or allowing them to continue going to school and home between treatments.

For more information about dissociative identity disorder in teens, reach out to Visions Treatment Centers.

Categories
Mental Health Therapy Treatment

What Can a Teen Mental Health Center Treat?

Mental healthcare can be an involved and intense process. Therapy can go a long way, but there are times when a teen needs more than a weekly session with their therapist to make significant progress. In such case, attending a teen mental health center for residential treatment is a great choice.

Some conditions are harder to treat than others, and controlling certain factors – such as a teen’s schedule or environment through a teen mental health center – can help a teen understand and overcome their symptoms and develop the coping skills needed for an effective long-term reprieve.

What Is a Teen Mental Health Center Like?

Mental health centers differ in size, shape, and intended purpose. Like an urgent care clinic or private practice, different clinics specialize in different types of treatments and mental health programs. Specialization is important – in cases of severe mental illness, a specialized environment and experienced mental health staff are necessary to make a difference.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment

A mental health center will usually provide either inpatient or outpatient services, or both.

Inpatient services require a teen to stay at the facility while receiving treatment, including overnight stays and day-to-day activities. Some specialized inpatient mental health facilities include day schools and a plethora of activities and amenities to help teens feel at home, meet new peers, and keep up with their schoolmates.

Outpatient programs, on the other hand, allow a teen to stay at home and continue going to school while receiving continued care at a mental health facility on an appointment basis. Some outpatient programs, such as intensive outpatient care, may require a teen to visit the facility for multiple hours a day, five or six times a week. Other programs are more relaxed but will usually still require multiple appointments per week.

Other Treatment Services

Sometimes, mental health facilities are prepared to receive patients who need more intensive care. Psychiatric hospitals, for example, exist to cater to and tend to patients being hospitalized for a short period of time. Where outpatient or most inpatient treatment programs can last weeks and months, a stay at a psychiatric hospital is often no more than a few weeks.

Partial hospitalization is another form of outpatient treatment, considered a half-step between inpatient programs and an intensive outpatient facility. In many cases, partial hospitalization is used as a transitory step, helping patients move away from rehab and into long-term psychiatric support through an outpatient program and therapy in the outside world.

In a partial hospitalization program, a patient who would otherwise need to be hospitalized, who has just come from an inpatient program, or who might be at risk of relapse can seek intensive short-term care – no more than a few weeks – to focus on pivoting towards living alone or with family, and continuing support through group meetings or one-on-one therapy sessions.

Between partial hospitalization, outpatient program, psychiatric hospitals, and inpatient programs, mental health centers prepare for a wide variety of conditions and disorders.

When Is a Teen Mental Health Center Necessary?

Treatment at a mental health center may be necessary for your teen if first-line treatment through a therapist or psychiatrist is not enough. Depending on your teen’s condition, it may be difficult for them to make progress without more intense support.

While therapy can help, a lot of the leg work involved in overcoming feelings of depression or anxiety is ultimately related to consistent and daily changes in thinking and lifestyle, in addition to the effects of medication. Without the right support at home or in more severe cases, a teen will require inpatient or outpatient programming to benefit from their treatment plan.

Some Conditions Require Intensive Treatment

Some conditions are more likely to lead to intensive treatment than others. For example, severe schizophrenia can lead to long-lasting delusions, hallucinations, memory problems, and periods of confusion. A teen with schizophrenia may require a clinical setting and the help of multiple professionals working together to get the right treatment. Afterward, an outpatient program can help these teens continue to seek care while adjusting to life outside of therapy, sticking to their new schedules, their medication, and their new coping skills.

Substance use disorder is another example of a disorder that frequently calls for mental health treatment at a professional facility. Rehab at home or going cold turkey is often ill-advised for professionals, both due to the high risk of relapse and the physical dangers of an uncontrolled or improperly supervised withdrawal period.

If seeing a professional is not enough, in your teen’s opinion, consider talking to them about seeking out a treatment program at a mental health center. Here are a few examples of when you might want to talk to your teen about visiting a treatment center together.

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are two of the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues in the world, but there are many different kinds of anxious and depressive disorders. Severe depressive disorders can include symptoms of self-harm and suicidal ideation, sometimes necessitating professional supervision while a teen receives treatment.

In cases of anxiety disorders, some conditions such as post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or severe phobias may require intensive outpatient treatment to overcome the strongest symptoms and help a teen reintegrate into everyday living.

Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder, or addiction, is one of the more common conditions that may require inpatient or outpatient treatment at a mental health center. Drug addiction can be a difficult habit to break, not least of which because it is often entrenched both physically and psychologically.

Furthermore, more than half of people with substance use disorders struggle with at least one other mental health disorder (dual diagnosis), which can compound and complicate treatment. An inpatient program can help teens detox safely and begin their rehab journey in a drug-free environment.

Personality Disorders

There are ten recognized personality disorders, each with its own unique set of symptoms and characteristics, across three major clusters.

Many personality disorders are chronic or even lifelong conditions. Under certain circumstances and severe symptoms, a teen might need treatment at a specialized facility to learn to control and mitigate the symptoms of their disorder and improve their overall quality of life.

Psychosis

Psychosis is characterized by experiencing, seeing, hearing, or even smelling things that aren’t there. When a person experiences a “psychotic break,” this usually means that their perception of the world around them has separated itself from reality. The most well-known psychotic disorder is schizophrenia, but there are several different conditions with hallucinatory or psychotic symptoms, including physical conditions such as brain tumors or head trauma.

Treating psychosis can be difficult, especially if a teen patient becomes paranoid or suspicious of their surroundings. Trust, in addition to patience, are important aspects of treatment.  

Do You Need Professional Help?

If you are unsure whether you or a loved one require an intensive treatment plan, please consider discussing it with your doctor or therapist. They may be able to refer you to a potential treatment facility or give you personalized advice.

If your loved one is struggling with a mental health condition that often requires inpatient or outpatient treatment through a clinic or a teen mental health center, then consider talking to them about it – and scheduling an appointment together. Struggling with mental illness is frustrating and often terrifying. Receiving help and support from others, especially those we love, goes a long way towards soothing those feelings.

For more information about Visions Treatment Centers, please contact us anytime.

Categories
Mental Health

Mental Health Facilities for Teens: Are They Worth it?

Mental health facilities for teens and adults are treatment clinics, residential programs and/or clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and community-based mental health centers that specialize in addressing, diagnosing, and treating psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and substance use. Despite an increase in demand, mental health resources continue to be scarce, and both adults and adolescents are not receiving the care they need.

Statistics estimate that as many as 35 percent of adults with severe, debilitating mental health issues do not receive any treatment for their condition, and over half of adults with a mental health issue of any kind receive no care. For teens, the stats aren’t much better.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that the average delay between onset and treatment in the US is 11 years. That’s over a decade spent living with symptoms without the necessary professional guidance or pharmacological help that could reduce symptom severity, and greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.

Getting access to care can be difficult, in part due to stigma, and in part due to associated costs. Different mental health facilities exist to ease that burden and help break down some of these barriers. Some places specialize in providing as much access to necessary care as possible, while others further specialize in addressing individual concerns, such as substance use with co-occurring mental health issues in teens.

Mental health facilities are not always needed to get the necessary treatment for your teen. Individual psychiatrists and therapists can help refer your teen to a professional diagnosis, and get them access to the care they need, whether it is a prescription for mood stabilizers or a long-term therapeutic treatment plan. But when they are needed, they can be true life savers.

What Are Mental Health Facilities for Teens?

In the United States, mental health facilities can generally be split between outpatient facilities and inpatient facilities.

Outpatient Facilities

Outpatient facilities are places you go to for treatment. You make an appointment, or receive a treatment schedule, and you attend treatment regularly. These may be a clinical setting where a therapist works, receiving your teen on a weekly basis for cognitive behavioral therapy.

Some outpatient programs are more intensive than others. In some cases, teens might be brought to an outpatient facility, but may be required to visit three to four times a week, for as many as four or five hours a day.

Inpatient Facilities

Inpatient facilities are places where patients receive room and board in addition to treatment. They might be a clinical or hospital setting, or they might be a more long-term residential setting. Short-term treatment at a psychiatric hospital might be necessary for someone with a condition that makes them much more likely to engage in self-harm for a period of time, for example.

In some cases, conditions like schizophrenia can cause people to perceive things around them differently, whether it’s through auditory or visual hallucinations or convincing delusions. A clinical inpatient setting can ensure that a teen remains safe during this episode.

Primary Residential Facilities

Residential facilities are more home-like, utilizing residential spaces and repurposing them into places for teens to live in while they receive care. This may be necessary in cases where a teen’s environment is contributing to their illness, such as an addiction, where nearly everything familiar can be a trigger, or in cases where a teen’s peers are making it difficult to stay sober.

Inpatient programs might be necessary for teens with specific cases of severe mental illness, but they are not a kind of prison or an internment camp.

All treatment is ultimately voluntary unless court-mandated after illegal activity. This is important, because it sets itself apart from the more harrowing histories of previous mental health facilities. Psychiatric asylums, or psychiatric state hospitals, no longer exist in the United States.

Private Treatment Facilities

That being said, private treatment facilities for mental health issues can be expensive. It is important to know when your teen should consider seeking residential or outpatient treatment, and when they shouldn’t. Your best bet is to consult a medical professional to find out. Only your teen’s psychiatrist or therapist will be able to make the best call as to whether they need long-term outpatient treatment, or even an inpatient treatment plan.

When Is Inpatient Treatment Needed?

Inpatient treatment may be recommended in cases where a teen needs a stable and safe environment with a professional staff, such as severe cases of bipolar disorder, depression with suicidal ideation, schizophrenia, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Inpatient treatment may also be recommended in cases of substance use disorder. Substance use can involve painful withdrawal symptoms, a medically dangerous detoxification process, and intense drug cravings.

Inpatient facilities equipped to deal with substance use will be staffed by multiple physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, and therapists, each committed to providing a high level of care to your teen as they go through detox, withdrawal, and the early stages of rehabilitation.

Inpatient drug use programs typically last around four weeks but can last longer. In addition to helping teens wean off drugs, these programs also help them reintegrate into life without drugs, focusing on incorporating and building healthy coping skills and other tools that might help them throughout sobriety. After inpatient treatment, a teen may be required or recommended to an outpatient program to continue their recovery education and their therapy. Support groups can help, as well.

What Is a Psychiatric Hospital?

Psychiatric hospitals are different from residential inpatient programs or a partial hospitalization program. These are clinical settings where medical professionals focus on patient care on a day-to-day basis, like any other hospital – but with a focus on psychiatric conditions and severe mental health issues. Psychiatric hospitals aren’t long-term treatment facilities – patients may be interned after hurting themselves or landing themselves in the hospital and are free to go after a few days or weeks.

When Should I Seek Help for My Teen?

If your teen comes forward to you about not feeling well, or about having a hard time recently, it’s important to entertain the idea of seeing a professional if things don’t get better.

We all want to be there for our children, and we all want to help. But there are times when certain thoughts and moods crop up, and we don’t have the power to make them go away.

Professional treatment can help your teen improve their quality of life and regain control. Sometimes, that might involve working with someone through a mental health facility.

If you’re interested in learning more about mental health facilities for teens with substance abuse or other mental health issues, reach out for help. Our professional staff at Visions Treatment Centers is here for you and your teen.

Categories
Substance Abuse

10 Popular Party Drugs Your Teen May Be Using

While teen substance abuse has categorically decreased over time, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, it still remains an issue affecting millions of young adults. Various popular party drugs are currently available that contribute to this problem.

As many as 17 percent of eighth graders and over 46 percent of 12th graders admitted to using alcohol in the last year. For marijuana, the numbers were at 7 percent among eighth graders and over 30 percent among 12th graders. Even among illicit (hard) drugs, one of the categories that dropped the hardest, drug use remained at nearly 5 percent for eighth graders and over 7 percent for 12th graders. That is about one in twenty and one in fourteen students, respectively.

Part of the reason teens don’t use drugs as much as they used to is that they simply don’t party as much as they used to. Teens are far less keen on drugs and unprotected sex than previous generations, and are even dropping vaping at a fast pace. But when today’s kids party, they still party just as hard as teens at any other point in history. And yes, that includes popular party drugs.

What Are Party Drugs?

Some of the popular party drugs teens use nowadays largely resemble the same stuff available a generation or two ago. Although the names change, and some of the production trends and supply chains have altered, teens are still into booze, weed, dope, and LSD, among others.

Mainstays from previous generations are still around, like MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, and lean (cough syrup mixed with alcohol or soda). Newer drugs on the market include various strains of synthetic cannabinoids and other designer drugs, made to evade the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) while catering to a variety of clientele.

1. Ecstasy

Ecstasy is usually MDMA, or at least a mixture of drugs, including pure MDMA. It is a type of synthetic stimulant that grew in popularity in the rave and dance party scene and can be found pretty much anywhere. Most forms of ecstasy are sold in tabs or pill form and are sometimes also called Molly, Mandy, or X.

As a stimulant, ecstasy creates a feeling of euphoria and provides a boost of energy. But overuse can strain the heart and kidneys. It’s an addictive drug, and side effects range from painful teeth grinding to paranoia and blurry vision.

2. Ketamine

Ketamine is an alternative pain killer and anesthetic, usually used for sedation. It is considered an analgesic and an anesthetic drug but has also been researched for the treatment of depression. Since it began being used in surgery, ketamine also grew popular as a recreational drug, all the way back in the days of the Vietnam War. It is sometimes called Special K and is sold in powder or liquid form. When taken, it induces a dissociative, hallucinogenic effect, but it can be addictive, unlike most hallucinogens.

3. Cough Syrup

A lot of cough syrup-related drugs use prescription-strength purple-tinted codeine and promethazine cough syrup, and mix it with a soda like Sprite, and candies. The result is a sweet purple soda called “lean,” laced with prescription-grade painkillers, creating a euphoric effect. As a synthetic opioid, codeine is also addictive.

4. Synthetic Marijuana

While marijuana is illegal and not suitable for teen use either, synthetic marijuana is significantly more dangerous.

These are synthetic cannabinoids created in a lab and either sprayed on cellulose or sold in liquid form as an “alternative” kind of CBD. These unregulated cannabinoids are often highly potent, far more than regular marijuana, and can lead to hospitalization or worse. Depending on where and how the drug was developed, low amounts are all it takes to cause poisoning.

5. LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)

Synthesized from lysergic acid, a range of alkaloids produced by the ergot fungus (which grows on ryes and grasses), LSD is a powerful hallucinogen that has been the subject of research, medical debate, and plenty of legislation as far back as the 1960s.

While it isn’t addictive, because of its powerful hallucinogenic effects, LSD remains a controlled substance. Even low use can easily lead to injury due to its hallucinogenic properties. It’s also called acid.

6. PCP (Phenylcyclohexyl Piperidine)

Also known as angel dust, PCP is another powerful hallucinogen usually mixed with tobacco or marijuana for smoking. It can cause seizures and addiction and has been linked to an increased risk of suicide.

7. Inhalants

Inhalants are a wide class of drugs that include various solvents and aerosols, even in household items. A lot of inhalant use isn’t illegal, but it is dangerous, and medically unadvised. Inhalant use can cause a high in teens, but can quickly wreak havoc on the brain, heart, and lungs. Common inhalants include:

  • Butane
  • Toluene (permanent markers, contact cement, certain glues)
  • Amyl nitrite
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Acetone
  • Gasoline
  • And others.

8. Prescription Stimulants

The most common prescription stimulants are Ritalin and Adderall (Adderall is also an amphetamine), both of which are provided to teens diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).

In non-ADHD individuals, prescription stimulants can lead to addiction, and are sometimes sold as “smart drugs” as a study aid or performance enhancer. While these claims are baseless – these drugs don’t enhance memory or improve cognition before a test – they aren’t always just served at parties.

9. Cocaine

While cocaine is inordinately expensive these days, it can still be sold at upper-class parties, or cut with common household powders, from talc to powdered sugar. Cocaine is an alkaloid drug derived from the coca leaf and used for its euphoric, stimulant effects. However, it can cause heart and respiratory damage and quickly lead to addiction.

10. Alcohol

Yes, alcohol is a party drug – and by far the most common and thus most dangerous party drug of them all. While binge drinking numbers have dropped among individuals aged 12 to 22, they’re still quite high. In 2019, 33 percent of full-time college students reported binge drinking in the last month. The risk of a car accident from drunk driving is also still higher among younger drinkers than older ones.

What If My Teen Is Using Drugs?

It goes without saying that drug use is dangerous, even in one-off or experimental circumstances. Teens, however, are especially vulnerable to the negative aspects of drug use, including addictiveness. The teen brain is more likely to get addicted than the adult brain, as research shows – the earlier a person begins using drugs, the more likely they are to struggle with long-term drug use in adulthood.

Street Drugs

Some drugs are more dangerous than others. Unsurprisingly, street drugs are often near the top of the list because they are completely unregulated. Their contents cannot be accurately controlled, and neither can their method of production. Just because you find a pill labeled or sold as pure MDMA does not mean that is what you are getting.

Date Rape Drugs

There are also drugs that teens are ingesting without having any knowledge or control over them. “Date rape” drugs are unfortunately common, especially at the college level, and are used to incapacitate a person and lead to sexual assault. Adolescents and young adults are four times as likely to experience date rape than any other age group.

Preventing date rape is difficult because the drugs can be mixed into a teen’s drink at any time. It is a good idea to make sure your teen knows never to let their drink out of sight if they attend a party, or to get a new one the moment they’ve left their old drink unattended.

Some products to casually recognize these drugs in drinks, such as date-rape detection nail polish and other similar products, may also be very useful, although it is important to review how many different types of drugs these products can detect.

The Dangers of Legal Drugs

Outside of popular party drugs, even “legal” drugs are incredibly dangerous. Alcohol use among teens is still too high, with binge drinking and alcohol-related car accidents being some of the most common killers among young people. Cigarettes and nicotine are just as abundant and ubiquitous as alcohol, and even more addictive while promoting the development of lung and heart cancer. Prescription drugs, whether stimulants, painkillers, or depressants like benzodiazepine, can quickly lead to addiction and overdose.

Get Help for Teen Substance Use

If your teen shows signs of drug use, has admitted to frequently using drugs, or has been caught with drugs on multiple occasions, it’s important to act as soon as possible. Talk to your teen about quitting. Talk to them about professional help. Be with them every step of the way towards treatment. They will need the support in the coming months and years.

For more information about teen drug use or popular party drugs, contact us today.

At Visions Treatment Centers, we specialize in diagnosing and treating a range of teen mental health issues and dual diagnoses using specialized modalities and care through our teen residential programs and more.

Categories
Depression

How to Help a Teenager with Depression

Depression affects teens more than nearly any other subset of the population, at a prevalence of 17 percent versus 8.4 percent among all US adults. That is at least 4 million kids yearly affected by one or more episodes of major depression. Nearly 3 million teens (12 percent of teens) struggle with a form of depression-related impairment, affecting their ability to perform well at school or function daily. 

While we have made great strides in recognizing depression and combatting the stigma against acknowledging mental health issues in our communities, the fight is far from over. Less than half of all teens affected by depression get the care they need – and only about 46 percent of teens diagnosed with severe depression received necessary treatment in the past year. 

In this article, we’re exploring how to help a teenager with depression.

How to Help a Teenager with Depression

As a parent, you want the best for your teenager. If you suspect your teen may be experiencing symptoms of depression, you may feel uncertain about how to help. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to provide your teen the care they need.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depressive thoughts or have been diagnosed with depression, it might help to know that you are not alone. But that is not enough. Professional mental healthcare is necessary for the effective treatment of depression. Advocate for your loved ones, and ensure they get the help they need. 

In the meantime, you can learn more about how to help your loved one at home or school through the Internet and by consulting their therapist directly. 

Here’s what you need to know about depression and how to help a teenager with depression.

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression

Teen depression can come in many different forms. It doesn’t always look the same. A few identifying signs are prevalent in most cases, though. These include: 

  • A severe and sudden downward shift in mood.
  • Frequently discussing death and suicide, or life without/after them. 
  • Struggling to focus or concentrate on anything, plummeting grades or harder time listening/being there. 
  • Lack of interest in old hobbies, joylessness most of the time (anhedonia). 
  • Not hanging out with friends anymore, having trouble finding new friends. Social isolation. 
  • Sudden unexplained weight gain or weight loss. 
  • Consistently low mood, a low “baseline” of emotion, meaning a teen’s mental default state is to be sad. 

Understanding the signs and symptoms of depressive illnesses is essential. Still, it is also important to know that depression can come in different forms – not all teens affected by a mood disorder are diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Other common depressive disorders include seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder

Types of Teen Depression

Depressive illnesses are often called mood disorders because their primary symptoms include depression or mania. Mania is a form of inappropriately elevated mood, usually juxtaposed with varying episodes of plummeting mood. 

Whereas depressed teens struggle to get out of bed, a manic person may be restless and insomniac, able to maintain high levels of energy for an inordinate amount of time, and may experience strange, temporary feelings of grandeur. Depression with mania is usually called bipolar disorder, and comes in different forms, including bipolar I (at least one manic episode) and bipolar II (cycling between hypomania, or a sub-manic mood, and depression). 

Other types of depression may be signposted by unique symptoms or characteristics, such as PMDD revolving around a person’s menstrual and hormone cycle. At the same time, seasonal affective disorder is usually tied to seasonal changes between autumn and winter. 

Treatments may differ between these conditions. While therapy and antidepressant medication are common first-line treatments, teens affected by seasonal affective disorder may be prescribed light therapy and vitamin D supplements. In contrast, teens with PMDD may be prescribed medical birth control to help improve symptoms. 

What Causes Depression?

When we look at a mental health condition like teen depression, there are two different contributing types of “causes.” These are internal factors (genes), and external factors (environmental stress, acute trauma, social exclusion or bullying, and other preventable and unavoidable factors). 

Rather than think of definitive causes, it is more accurate to think of these risk factors as percentage multipliers contributing to the potential onset of depression. They can increase the chance of depression developing but never guarantee it. In cases where a teen struggles with depression, a variety of different preventable and unavoidable causes rather than a single, simple reason. 

Just as certain things contribute to the risk of developing teen depression, there are also so-called protective factors that help lower the chances of depression in a teen. These include a more positive, healthier parent-child relationship, healthy physical attributes (better sleep, better diet, more exercise), avoiding negative coping habits (drinking, smoking, polydrug use, yoyo dieting/binge eating), and better access to mental healthcare. Protective factors can also play an essential rule in treatment, helping minimize symptoms and introduce healthier means of coping with stressors and depressive episodes. 

The Importance of Professional Help

If your loved one is diagnosed with depression or likely depressed, then your ability to help them yourself is sadly limited. You can’t think or feel for someone else, and depression isn’t something you can talk someone out of. Even therapists are limited in their ability to help patients alone. Usually, they apply their treatments in conjunction with pharmacological help (antidepressants), family support, and lifestyle changes. 

Treating depression requires a holistic and comprehensive approach. It’s not something you should tackle on your own, let alone without professional help. If your loved one is depressed, talk to them about potentially getting help together. Let them know they aren’t alone. Be there for them, help them schedule an appointment for an evaluation and potential diagnosis, and bring them to their first few therapy sessions. Talk to their therapist, and get a better understanding of what you can do to help. 

Do Not Underestimate Your Influence

A friend or family member’s influence on a depressed person is immense, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Even on the worst days, when you’re being pushed away and it feels like you can’t get through to the person you love, your efforts mean something, and they make a difference. 

Continue to be a role model for self-care and support your teen in every step of the treatment process. Do not give up. Things do get easier over time. 

Categories
Mental Health

My Teen Has a Mental Health Illness: Now What?

The number of young people diagnosed with mental illness has been on the rise as we continue to expand our understanding of how these conditions work, and how best to diagnose and treat them. More than one-third of high schoolers struggle with persistent sadness or signs of depression, a 40 percent uptick from 2009.

While our ability to recognize and diagnose mental health issues has improved, there are other reasons why teens nowadays are more anxious and depressed than ever. Environmental conditions, piling crises, and historical events have all contributed to growing neuroses among adolescents. If your teen has been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, it is sufficient to say they are not alone. And neither are you. 

This is not the end – far from it, in fact. Here’s what you should know. 

Talk To a Professional

First things first – mental health issues should be treated like any other long-term, at times chronic medical condition. This means you listen to the advice of medical professionals and consult them as often as possible. It can be difficult and confusing to try and communicate with someone who is anxious or depressed. Their behavior, their thinking, and the things they say sometimes make little sense. Everything you try to do to make it better seems to backfire. Kind words seem to sting them like insults. 

It’s important to understand that some mental health conditions can make your mind operate on a different level and change the logic behind your thinking. Your teens may be stuck in a cycle they can’t escape alone. Helping them work with a therapist can be an excellent first start – but you need to work with one, too. Talk to them about your teen, and about how you’ve been feeling. Get a better understanding of what your teen is going through, and what you should do to help. 

It’s Not Your Fault (And It’s Not Theirs)

It can be particularly hard to hear this, but it isn’t always someone’s fault. It is essential to realize that, in most cases, no one can be blamed for a mental health issue. And even when there is someone to blame – a perpetrator of abuse or the cause of your teen’s trauma – that anger and hatred might not necessarily bring any amount of healing or closure. 

It doesn’t help your teen if you get angry on their behalf. On the other hand, it’s natural to be upset – but remember that your priorities should lie with what’s best for your teen and not what feels most satisfying at the moment. 

Learn More About Supporting Them

Education is paramount. It’s one thing to know your teen is depressed, but it is another to discover that it is a form of seasonal depression and that specific triggers and factors – including a change towards wintertime, holiday preparations, and end-of-the-year stressors – are significant contributors to their distress. 

Talk to your teen and their counselor or therapist about how they’re doing, what they’re feeling, and how their condition might continue to affect them at home and throughout the day. Some teens may experience dual diagnosis disorders, which combine one or more disorders, such as substance abuse disorder, depression, and more.

Take Care of Yourself

Your own mental well-being is important, too. Not only should you take care of yourself for your own sake, but you need to do it for your teen. If your mental and physical health begins to deteriorate due to your dedication to your teen’s treatment, that can quickly backfire and affect them, too. 

Guilt is a powerful emotion and a common one for a lot of teens who discover that they have a mental health condition. No one wants to feel like a burden. Self-care can come in many different shapes – whether reading some of your comfort books more often, taking the dog out alone for some meditative time, keeping a private journal, or finding the time to exercise after work. Put aside enough time and resources for your own wellbeing. 

It Does Get Better

One of the more difficult parts about supporting someone in treatment or being part of a long-term support network for a loved one is the fatigue. While sometimes, mental health problems get better and “go away,” they’re not something we can control or cure. 

We can manage symptoms, improve mood and wellbeing, and adopt healthier coping mechanisms. Some teens become more successful at independently managing their mental health than others. Some just become good at hiding their symptoms for the sake of their loved ones, so they can stop worrying. But in many cases, it never completely goes away. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s always bad. It gets better – especially when things are at their worst. That’s when you can always be sure that they get better again. Life with mental illness is full of ups and downs. 

You’re More Important Than You Think

Once you start bringing your teen to different experts and schedule meetings with therapists and psychiatrists, the whole process can begin to feel overwhelming – and you begin to feel that there’s very little you can do to help them feel better. 

But don’t let that kind of thinking fool you. Therapy can go a long way, but a teen’s home environment, the behavior of their primary role models (you), and parental guidance play immense roles as protective factors against worsening symptoms and recovery relapse. No matter what happens, you will continue to be a cornerstone for their mental health and wellbeing, and a significant part of their health journey may involve you learning how to best support them. 

By creating a solid support network at home, welcoming your teen for who they are, learning more about how their condition works, and being patient and communicating with your teen’s therapists, you can continue to have a positive everyday impact on your teen’s emotional and psychological wellbeing, even if it doesn’t feel that way on a day-to-day basis. 

There are constant ups and downs when tackling mental illness, and it’s a rollercoaster struggle. Some weeks feel full of hope as you stride towards real actionable change in your teen’s behavior. Other weeks feel bleak. It’s important not to give up or let the bad weeks wear you down too much. Change in mental health occurs gradually, requiring constant reminders to manage and make peace with stress and focus on healthy coping skills. 

Categories
Mental Health PTSD Stress Trauma

Can Teens Have PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with combat veterans and victims of sexual assault. It is a widespread condition with a spectrum of symptoms brought on by any form of trauma at any age. So, what about teens? Can teens have PTSD too?

Nearly 7 percent of adults experience PTSD at some point in their lives, and women experience PTSD more regularly each year (5.2 percent) than men (1.8 percent). However, among teens alone, about 5 percent experience PTSD any given year (8 percent among girls, 2.3 percent among boys). Children can experience PTSD as well, usually in response to abuse or the loss of a parent. PTSD symptoms appear a little different in children and teens than they do in adults.

Recognizing the signs of PTSD can help parents and friends get their loved ones the care they need and minimize the chances of long-term recurring mental health problems, such as high levels of stress and anxiety, recurring depressive thoughts, and even suicidal ideation.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of stress disorder or anxiety disorder caused by trauma. Whereas other anxiety disorders may also figure in a traumatic or harrowing experience as part of its causes, PTSD can usually be directly attributed to a single event or series of events, such as a natural disaster, death of a loved one, or habitual family abuse. PTSD is triggered by a traumatic event but does have genetic causes. Some people are more likely to develop PTSD symptoms in response to trauma than others.

PTSD Symptoms in Teens and Children

In addition to being a mental health issue, PTSD has physical symptoms. The brain changes in response to trauma, sometimes being “locked” into a state of hypervigilance or awareness. Children, teens, and adults with PTSD have marked differences in the way their brain processes startling stimuli. As a result, people with PTSD are more prone to entering fight-or-flight, are more easily startled, and may be much more irritable and on-edge than others.

PTSD has several characteristic symptoms that can be categorized as either remembering/re-experiencingavoidanceunwanted thoughts, or physical and emotional changes, such as heightened anxiety, difficulty controlling emotions, recurring depressive episodes, insomnia, jitters, nervousness, restlessness, and an uncontrollable startle reflex.

Can Teens Have PTSD? How Does it Differ from Adults?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is not a simple condition, and symptoms can vary depending on the nature of the trauma, the severity of the condition itself, and the age of the person. Children and teens will usually experience PTSD differently than adults.

In general, teens are more prone to anger and irritability after a traumatic experience. Teens with PTSD have a harder time with emotional regulation and will be more emotionally unstable as a result of their condition. They are more likely to turn towards violent actions against themselves or others following a traumatic experience and more likely to experience outbursts of anger, either against themselves or others. Teens are also likely to “retaliate” to abuse by engaging in self-harm, high-risk behavior, sexual behavior, or substance use.

Children and PTSD

Aside from greater emotionality and irritability, symptoms between teens and adults are mostly the same. Children, on the other hand, are more likely to incorporate elements of their trauma into play as part of their “flashbacks” or re-experiencing symptoms. A child under the age of six may re-experience their trauma through roleplaying or reenactments with toys. They are also more prone to nightmares and other frightening dreams that incorporate elements of their traumatic experience.

Time-Skewing and Omen Formation

Two other unique elements in pre-adolescent PTSD are time-skewing and omen formation. In other words, children are more likely to mess up the sequence of events in which their trauma took place, among other memory problems. They will have a harder time remembering exactly in what order things happened to them, perhaps due to the way their brain prioritizes the severity of the event over its chronological order.

Omen formation refers to the way children will attempt to understand what happened to them through pattern recognition. They may pick random signs that occurred prior to the trauma as predictive factors for a repeated event. In this way, they will try to stay alert for anything that might signal another traumatic experience, even if it had nothing to do with their abuse or trauma.

As with older teens and adults, children experience cognitive trouble and memory problems because of untreated trauma. They may do worse in school, and symptoms can continue for years after the event.

PTSD vs. Other Anxiety Disorders

PTSD can be classified as an anxiety disorder because its characteristic symptoms center around a nervous response to a traumatic event, and this can reinforce existing feelings of insecurity and anxiousness or create new ones.

Teens and adults with PTSD are also more prone to social and generalized anxiety (growing feelings of worry, despite no direct cause), panic attacks, and depressive symptoms, including overwhelming feelings of guilt and self-blame, and resulting episodes of self-harm or suicidal ideation.

However, most other anxiety disorders are not directly linked to a single event or traumatic cause. Anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety usually develop independently of any event, with the most common age of onset being adolescence.

How is PTSD in Teens Treated?

Some medications can help teens with PTSD manage stress symptoms and depressive symptoms, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, but the bulk of a teen’s treatment relies on therapeutic methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

These therapies approach PTSD in different ways but ultimately circle back to helping teens work through their trauma, overcome, and deconstruct misattributed feelings of guilt or shame, and develop healthy coping skills to manage future stressors and lead a symptom-free life.

Specialized treatment may be needed in cases where PTSD is coupled with another diagnosis, such as substance use disorder or major depressive disorder. Co-occurring mental health conditions can complicate treatment and require an approach that addresses multiple issues concurrently through a lens of holistic mental care.

Finding Treatment for PTSD in Teens

It’s important to treat and address PTSD in teens to prevent other long-term mental health issues. If you suspect your teen of experiencing PTSD, contact us today.

Visions Treatment Centers is focused on treating teen mental health needs using specialty clinic modalities by licensed clinical psychologists. We also offer teen residential treatment programs and much more.

Categories
Mental Health Personality Disorder

Schizoid and Schizotypal: The Difference

We all need support, but our teens may need it most of all. Growing into adulthood comes with its own set of trials, and dealing with a diagnosis of a mental health issue–for example, schizoid and schizotypal–on top of it can overwhelm most teens.

But it’s not always enough to just want the best for our children. Understanding your teen’s mental health is key to learning how to help them, and that can mean differentiating between their condition and countless other mental health issues.

If your teen was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, or schizophrenia, then understanding how each one is radically different from the others can give you a clearer context on not just how your teen is doing, but how different mental health issues are categorized, how they connect to one another, and what you should look out for in the long-term.

What is a Personality Disorder?

Personality disorders are a set of ten distinct diagnoses centered around odd or disordered behavior and thinking in a teen or adult. A personality disorder is different from another mental health disorder in that individuals with personality disorders may be developing a lifelong set of symptoms related to their very being, meaning long-term treatment and stress management is crucial.

Like any other mental health issue, however, it is important not to misattribute personality disorders to a person’s moral fiber or being. Teens with personality disorders are not “bad.” With support, professional treatment, and long-term coping skills, they can lead a healthy and thriving life in spite of their diagnosis. But early treatment is important.

Personality disorders develop through a combination of internal and external factors. That means genetic predisposition plays one role, but the environment is also a contributing factor. Chronic stressors, traumatic experiences, and strange life circumstances can lead to a personality disorder in adolescence and beyond.

These conditions must cause distress to be considered a disorder. Not everyone with an abrasive or unliked personality requires professional treatment. Teens who are distinctly suffering because of their own thoughts and behavior may be diagnosed with a personality disorder.

Among the ten types, there are three categories each type fits into. These are called the A, B, and C clusters, also known as the eccentric cluster, the dramatic cluster, and the anxious cluster, respectively.

Schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders are often mistaken for one another but are two completely separate and distinct personality disorders with their very own set of symptoms. That being said, both fall under cluster A, or the eccentric cluster.

What is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

A schizoid personality disorder is characterized by intense introversion and social isolation. A teen diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder will feel distant, almost emotionless, or robotic and will struggle or avoid forming social relationships of their own. They seem uninterested in praise or criticism.

The root of the confusion comes from the prefix schizooriginally a Greek root word, it means schism, or a split. In the context of a schizoid personality disorder, the patient is split from other people, emotionally distant, and socially isolated, often by their own choice. Getting through to a teen with schizoid personality disorder can be difficult.

What is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Whereas a schizoid personality disorder is characterized by being split from people in general, a schizotypal personality disorder is more closely linked to the meaning we generally attribute to the term, which is being split from reality. Schizotypal personality disorders are characterized by so-called “odd thinking,” which includes strange magical or superstitious beliefs, complex and individual belief systems, peculiar speech patterns, and a very strong social anxiety and fear of close relationships.

The main difference between a teen with schizoid personality disorder and a teen with schizotypal personality disorder is that the former will not necessarily show signs of an unconventional relationship with reality, and their reluctance to form bonds with others is centered on disinterest rather than anxiety, while the latter may appear distant to others out of a poor experience with friends or family, while sharing a strange or eccentric understanding of the world.

Personality Disorders vs. Schizophrenia

Schizotypal personality disorder is often compared to schizophrenia due to its eccentric or unrealistic worldview and characteristic superstitious thoughts. But teens and adults with schizotypal personality disorder are not experiencing delusions or psychotic (break-from-reality) episodes.

The core of a schizotypal personality disorder is a lack of social skills and the way that social anxiety interacts with their mood and memory. In addition to strange beliefs, schizotypal teens may also have memory problems and depressive thoughts.

Their eccentric beliefs may instead be a defense mechanism for their social anxiety, a sort of shield to create a more fantastical explanation for why they wish to be apart from others. While they may truly believe the things they say, teens with schizotypal personality disorder are not struggling with hallucinations or psychotic breaks.

Meanwhile, a teen with schizophrenia may struggle to differentiate between what is really going on around them and what has happened in their head. They may experience audiovisual hallucinations or delusional thinking. Seeing things that aren’t there, hearing things that aren’t there, and thinking things are a certain way (even if they aren’t) are hallmarks of schizophrenia.

The main link between the two conditions is a genetic one. People with schizotypal personality disorder are more likely to have a relative with schizophrenia, and vice versa. Yet, despite the biological link, the two conditions are separate and treated differently.

The Importance of a Professional Diagnosis

Regardless of whether your teen is struggling with a schizotypal personality disorder, a schizoid personality disorder, or schizophrenia, getting the right and appropriate form of help is crucial.

Every teen requires a unique approach, especially in the case of serious mental health symptoms like hallucination and psychosis. Getting your teen the best possible help as early as you can is key to helping them manage their symptoms and lead a more comfortable life. If you believe your teen or loved one is struggling with symptoms of depressionanxiety, social isolation, or psychosis, then convincing them to see a professional together is important.

Take your time and walk them through the idea slowly. They need to know that you’re trying to help them put an ease to their mind and stop the distress. Mental health treatment isn’t about eliminating what makes your teen unique or molding them into someone they aren’t. It’s about helping them find their place in the world and minimize the discomfort their condition might be causing, with your help and the support of their other friends and loved ones.

Get Schizoid and Schizotypal Treatment at Visions

If your teen is struggling with schizoid or schizotypal personality disorder, get help today. At Visions Treatment Centers, we can provide the proper tools, resources, and therapeutic modalities to treat these conditions.

For more information, visit us online or give us a call.

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