Teenagers can be fickle. In the course of a day, teenagers’ emotions may run the gamut from pure joy to utter misery. Considering all the physical, emotional and psychological changes teens experience, these swings are typical. If your teenager is dealing with feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anger or frustration for weeks or even months, however, he or she may be struggling with depression.
Finding help for your teen is critical and will most likely include medication and therapy. At a camp for depressed teens, children not only get the medication and therapy they need, but they also get a professional staff and a supportive community of peers to help them heal.
What Teen Depression Looks Like
Seeing your child struggle is heart-wrenching. When they need you the most is exactly when they may push you away, so helping them can be an uphill battle. Plus, knowing the difference between typical teenage moodiness and clinical depression, which can last for weeks, months or longer, can be difficult as there are certain similarities.
It’s important to know that depression is no one’s fault; it’s an illness that’s treatable, normally with a combination of medication and therapy. Depression may be triggered by life transitions or changes in a teen’s body chemistry. Signs of depression include sadness, a feeling of emptiness, hopelessness, anger, lack of joy, changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite and weight, lack of energy or trouble concentrating. For teens, a change in their grades or loss of interest in extracurricular activities may also be a sign of depression. Some people may think about dying or even attempt suicide. This illness may occur in conjunction with other mental health problems such as anxiety, substance abuse or an eating disorder.
Signs and symptoms of depression will manifest differently in teens than in adults. For example, while adults who are suffering from depression may withdraw from their friends, teens will still spend time with their close friends. In addition, adults may experience insomnia while teens will still find time to sleep, though their sleep patterns may change. Finally, depressed teens may be more irritable or angry while depressed adults tend to be withdrawn or sad. Finding the right camp for depressed teens may be the answer to help your child learn how to manage his or her depression.
How a Camp Can Help Your Teen
A camp for depressed teen students can give your teen skills to cope with depression and the emotional support to understand this illness. At Pacific Quest on Hawaii’s Big Island, the core of the program is wilderness therapy, which is a neurodevelopmental approach that combines the calming effect of natural surroundings with individualized therapy. This camp for depressed teens also uses horticultural therapy to motivate change and give teens the skills they need to deal with their depression. Some teens may want to manage their depression solely with medication. After a few weeks of taking depression medication, they may start to feel better and therefore not see the benefits of participating in a program. However, a camp for depressed teen students is a great complement to medication because teens will learn skills to manage their depression.
In addition to individualized therapy, teens at camps like Pacific Quest will be in an environment that promotes self-care, personal awareness and stewardship of one’s community.
A parent of a former Pacific Quest student shared the following about her teen’s experience: “Pacific Quest was life changing for our family and our daughter…She agrees that we put her there at the right time, she was ready for positive change in her life. She said she often reflects back to her experience there and knows it helped get her to where she is today.”
An educational consultant shared this reflection about Pacific Quest: “The psychiatric and integrative health team works to assure that each student is functioning at optimal performance all while eating healthy home grown organic foods and learning ways of connecting a healthy mind, with body and spirit. Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic community that is the beginning of a restorative journey.”
The Pacific Quest Difference
Pacific Quest is unlike any other camp for depressed teen students. Its integrative approach helps teens’ bodies, minds and spirits. We use wilderness and horticultural therapy to teach students sustainable life skills and empower them to make healthy choices. In combination with behavioral therapy, teens develop various skills including goal setting, time management, organization, community living, cooking, self-care and exercise. This level of involvement empowers teens and gives them a sense of control, which they may not have felt before attending Pacific Quest’s camp.
For nearly 20 years we’ve helped families face the devastating effects of depression and assured them they are not alone in this struggle.