Tag Archive: depression

  1. How Including the Family in the Healing Process Helps Adolescents With Depression

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    How Including the Family in the Healing Process Helps Adolescents with Depression

    Healing from mental health disorders, including depression, is essential for adolescents. It sets them up for a future where they know how to care for their needs and be successful in their endeavors. However, healing from depression has many challenges. Fortunately, including the family in this process can help. When treatment for adolescents with depression includes family therapy, both teens and parents learn to improve their relationships and develop skills that support the adolescent to heal and maintain their mental health. Additionally, family therapy improves overall stability at home.

    Sustain Recovery incorporates family therapy as a part of its mental health treatment.

    Depression in Adolescents

    Symptoms of depression impact every part of a person’s life, and for adolescents, it can make daily life a challenge. Teens will face many challenges. However, adolescents struggling with depression will experience symptoms such as the following:

    • Consistently feeling sad, hopeless, or worthless
    • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities like sports, arts, etc.
    • Irritation, anger, and frustration that feels uncontrollable
    • Difficulty focusing and caring about school
    • Change of sleep habits or eating habits
    • High and constant levels of fatigue
    • Lack of interest in relationships with family, friends, or other loved ones
    • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

    Every adolescent with depression will experience unique symptoms and a unique severity of symptoms. These symptoms can cause daily problems in an adolescent’s life. Therefore, it is important for teens to get the help they need to heal.

    Including the Family With Family Therapy

    The journey of healing from depression is unique for each adolescent. However, including the family in the healing process can help. Through family therapy, adolescents and their loved ones can work through their challenges together. This might include addressing issues in the family system like trauma, boundaries, and self-care. However, it may also involve the entire family learning more about depression, its effects, and how an adolescent can heal and maintain their mental health over time.

    Benefits of Including the Family in Healing

    There are many benefits of including the family in the healing process for depression. By helping both adolescents and their loved ones understand the signs and symptoms of depression, family therapy can affect the entire household. Additionally, it can help parents and adolescents know how to work together moving forward.

    Improving the Family System

    Adolescents are at a stage in their lives when they are learning new skills that will impact their future and, at the same time, are very reliant on their families. As a result, their family system makes a significant difference in their lives and affects their mental health.

    Fortunately, through family therapy, adolescents and their loved ones can address problems in their family system that are playing a role in their challenges with depression. This may include learning to create and maintain boundaries, expressing emotions, and more. However, it may also include addressing traumas that have occurred in the home or outside.

    Improving Support at Home

    Adolescents rely on support from their loved ones. Their support can help them make changes that better their mental health, learn new skills, and ultimately heal from depression. However, parents and loved ones are not always aware of how to support their adolescents. It is a constantly changing process that can be improved with support in family therapy.

    Through family therapy, adolescents and their loved ones can gain a better understanding of each other. Parents and loved ones can start to understand what their adolescent’s struggle with depression entails. They can learn skills that help them provide support and care that is helpful. While this will vary for each adolescent, it may include supporting them in learning life skills, medication management, problem-solving, and more. By working with mental health care professionals, parents will feel more confident in helping their adolescents in healing from depression and maintain their mental health.

    Including the Family in Treatment at Sustain Recovery

    Family therapy is not an easy process and requires that all members of the family actively participate. It often brings up topics that are challenging for the entire family to address. However, as a result, it also gets to the bottom of many difficulties in family systems.

    Adolescents and their families attending treatment at Sustain Recovery have an opportunity to heal as a family. They will address trauma, improve their understanding of each other, and work through mental health disorders together. As a result, when adolescents return home, they already have a foundation built. This foundation helps to improve communication between parents and adolescents and gives adolescents a strong support system after treatment.

    However, family therapy is only one piece of the puzzle. Treatment at Sustain Recovery incorporates many different modalities that help adolescents heal. Teens learn new skills while addressing trauma and other root causes of their challenges with depression and other mental health disorders.

    Family therapy can play a very important role in the healing process for adolescents healing from any mental health disorder, including depression. While family therapy looks different for each adolescent and their loved ones, it works to help improve the family system and build a strong foundation for improved communication. At Sustain Recovery, we offer family therapy as a part of the healing journey for adolescents with depression and other mental health disorders. The skills learned in family therapy and treatment in general at Sustain Recovery give adolescents a second chance, and they will carry these skills forward into their lives. To learn more about our treatment programs, call (949) 407-9052 today. 

  2. Watching for Increases in Holiday Depression and Suicide

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    The holidays often bring an increase in depression for adolescents, often because of loneliness or feeling like others are happy, even if they are not. This time of the year is also when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) kicks in due to shorter days and less sunlight. There is also a significant increase in alcohol consumption, which also accounts for the increases in alcohol-related deaths.

    While it is largely assumed that the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides are also increased around the holidays, a review of data published in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience demonstrated that there are actually fewer suicides and suicide attempts just before Christmas, with a rebound effect of up to a work 40% increase of suicides and attempts following the New Year. This is an important trend to note as you are working with adolescents with substance abuse and mental health diagnoses.

    If Your Client Is Not Communicating, How Can You Detect Depression?

    One of the difficulties in detecting depression in a client is when they are not communicating well. If you have cooperation from family, friends, teachers, and others who can all give you information about changes in mood, sleep, eating habits, and more, then the diagnosis is easier. But if the client has been away from home and in treatment, it can be difficult to discern if they are depressed or not.

    Working closely with doctors, clinicians, nurses, and other professionals can help track sleep and eating patterns as well as mood changes. If the patient is taking medications or has other health issues, take into account the side effects of those, as well. Without effective communication from the client themselves, it is important to watch closely for changes that may indicate a change from depression to thoughts of suicide.

    What Are the Signs of Suicidality to Watch For?

    According to an article entitled “Suicide Screening and Prevention” updated this year, at least one in seven adolescents has experienced suicidal ideation at some point. Suicidality is even more common among adolescents with substance abuse or mental health diagnoses. Some of the signs to watch for include:

    • Sudden changes in mood, sometimes positively or showing compliance
    • Increased anxiety or fixation with death, negative world events, etc.
    • Sudden changes in sleep or diet
    • Signs of paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions
    • Apathy or lack of pleasure with normal activities
    • Recent changes in medications
    • Speaking about the past; speaking about themselves as unimportant
    • Actions or expressions of hopelessness or helplessness
    • Contacting everyone they know or saying goodbye

    When Do You Recommend a More Restrictive Treatment Environment?

    When suicidality is suspected or confirmed through a note, verbal expressions, or attempts to access the means to commit suicide, it is time to recommend a more restrictive treatment environment such as an extended residential care facility where the adolescent can have supervision around the clock.

    Keep in mind that it is important to differentiate between self-harm, such as cutting, which is often used as a coping mechanism, and an actual suicide attempt. Even if hospitalization for safety reasons is the protocol in both situations, the clinical approach should be different. Self-harm is an indication of inner pain or unresolved trauma, while suicide is most often a result of depression and actually wanting to die.

    How to Protect Your Clients During the Holidays

    When adolescents are at higher risk for depression or suicide, they may need to check in more often with mental health professionals or seek a higher level of care. Not only does this provide more supervision and awareness of their mental state or potential for relapse, but it allows mental health professionals to reinforce coping methods and skills to guide them toward more self-efficacy as well.

    Checking in more often does not mean more work for you. In fact, it is a good idea to find more people to add to their support network and work as a team to create a bigger safety net. Particularly when there are past suicide attempts, suspected depression, or a known familial or personal risk, more support through the New Year will help ensure their safety.

    Monitoring Your Own Moods at This Time of the Year

    While treating your adolescent clients with compassion and empathy, remember to watch your own mental health. Monitor yourself for signs of depression or burnout, and engage increased support and self-care for yourself. The stress of the holidays can just as easily sneak up on mental health care providers, particularly while dealing with adolescents with such challenging behaviors and situations. Remembering to monitor your own moods and recovery can help ensure your clients get the best support from you.

    Understanding that the holidays can be challenging for both your clients and yourself, you can monitor mental health and behavior more closely to catch depression or suicidality early. Sometimes, an increase in supervision or a more restrictive environment is the safest way to prevent suicide, major depression, or relapse. The extended residential program at Sustain Recovery is a great alternative to the typical length programs. We offer the clinical supervision and structure needed to help adolescents with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health diagnoses. At Sustain Recovery, we are passionate about what we do and strict but compassionate with those we serve. If you have a client who has relapsed or struggled with less restrictive programs, call us at (949) 407-9052 to see if our program is the right fit for them. We are committed to helping them not only through the holidays but also by connecting them with people and resources and helping them transition back home after treatment. 

  3. That Was Then; This Is Now: The Art of Leaving the Past Behind

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    leaving past mistakesOften a young person feels like once they make a decision or hold negative self-perceptions, they cannot alter either. A lack of years worth of life experiences contributes to their inability to see how much power they possess. When your client talks to you in tunnel vision terms, you can challenge them to see the broader scope.

    People of all ages can learn how to leave their past mistakes behind and improve their self-esteem. Understanding how much power they have to leave their pasts behind adds to their empowerment. Open up a dialogue with your young clients about the art of separating their pasts from the present.

    The Dangers of Living By a Label

    The classic 1980’s film The Breakfast Club resonated with millions of teenagers. The movie tells the story of five different individuals forced to spend a Saturday in detention together at their high school. Each student represents one of the major social groups in a typical high school: the jock, the prom queen, the nerd, the outcast, and the burnout. By the end of the film, the characters have broken through their labels and bonded with each other.

    Many people felt touched by this film because they recognized themselves in one of the characters. Teenage clients of yours may have already told you what label they claim. It may feel like a natural fit, or it may have been forced on them by classmates.

    Labels are best for canned goods and laundry instructions. A teenager who shows a talent for sports may also feel like they don’t fit in with the popular group. A teenager who excels in science and math classes may also be the class president. Students who do well in all of their academics may also be experimenting with drugs or alcohol. People are complicated and don’t fit easily into just one category.

    Teenagers Who Know They Can Change May Experience Less Depression

    Research reported in 2014 by the University of Texas at Austin compared the depression rates of teens when educated about the changeable nature of personality traits. One group was given information about how their personalities can change. The data assured them that it was not because they had a deficient or non-malleable personality if they were bullied. The other group was not offered this same information.

    Nine months later, a follow-up on the two groups found something surprising. The rates of clinically significant depressive symptoms in the group not given the information about the ability to change who they are rose by about 39 percent. The group of kids given the affirmative information showed no increase in depressive symptoms.

    Try talking to your young clients about this phenomenon. Even if the teenage years prove difficult, as they often do, the knowledge that their lives are not written in stone can help them fight off mood disorder symptoms.

    Make a List Defining the Differences Between Then and Now

    Adolescent clients who are dealing with a substance use disorder have their hands full. They often obsess over the poor decisions made in the past. They may feel their hands are tied when it comes to reinventing themselves. Try asking these young people to make a list of what in their lives feels like it belongs in the past. Have them make another list of what actions or emotions they would like to see replace their previous choices or experiences.

    Examples from a list like this might include:

    Then: I used drugs or alcohol as a sedative to mask difficult emotions and experiences.
    Now: I talk openly to my therapist and family about how I feel and what challenges me.

    Then: I became frustrated easily, which caused me to give up on challenging schoolwork.
    Now: I keep my teachers in the loop about any extra help I need. I dedicate time to do homework and keep my parents informed about my progress.

    Then: I once felt shame about my mental health issues and try to hide my condition.
    Now: I talk to my therapist about my symptoms. We brainstorm ways to avoid feeling embarrassed for a condition that is not my fault.

    Applying Then vs. Now to Others

    Once your clients better understand the concept of leaving the past behind, they can go one step further. Ask them to think about which people in their lives might fit a similar bill. Maybe a parent used to treat them in what felt like an unfair manner. Is that parent trying to leave that behavior behind and be more supportive?

    Maybe the child feels an urge to judge a fellow student who doesn’t fit in. Ask them to consider what label this other teenager might be trying to reject. When we all try to let go of prejudgments, everyone wins. Just as a client can reinvent themselves, they might want to acknowledge those around them who are attempting to do the same.

    Many young people struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs find themselves taking up residence in the past. They dwell on previous negative choices and mistakenly believe they cannot change themselves. Teaching your clients the art of separating then from now can help them move forward with confidence. They benefit from being taught that they are capable of rejecting labels and can reinvent themselves. It can be eye-opening to apply this same knowledge to those around them. Sustain Recovery specializes in teaching adolescents and young adults how to leave their pasts behind. We treat substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Our long-term programs can help your clients face their addictions and leave them in the past. If you have a client who has not thrived in previous treatment programs, call us today at (949) 407-9052. We are happy to discuss how we can help them embrace recovery fully.

  4. Be Proactive and Know the Signs

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    signs of mental health disorders

    Mental health never takes a day off. It doesn’t matter if things seem to be going well or if the world feels like it’s crashing down on you. There’s always something you can do to help promote your child’s mental health and overall well-being. Think about an activity your child is involved in. Whether it be a sport, a musical instrument, or an academic club, if your family is serious about your child’s involvement, you likely will not take a day off from doing at least one thing that can help further their progress. Consistency is key for those who are trying to build the work ethic and skills that can help you succeed. Mental healthcare is just like all of these other things. It’s important that as your child’s caregiver, you know the warning signs that something may be wrong. It’s much better that you be proactive in helping stop a potential problem before it becomes an actual problem. The last place you want to be is wishing you had done something that wouldn’t lead you to a reactive state when you could have been proactive. Sustain Recovery knows it isn’t always easy, so we’re here to help you learn the warning signs that may signal a mental health issue

    The Numbers Behind Mental Health

    There’s a common misconception among some people that adolescents and young adults cannot possibly experience a mental illness because they do not have the responsibilities that actual adults have and have not had actual experiences that can contribute to a mental illness. This is completely false. Mental illness does not discriminate. An adolescent or young adult who is struggling with a mental illness is valid. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that, 1 in 6 youth in the United States between the ages of 6 and 17 are diagnosed with a mental illness each year. Furthermore, half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% begin by age 24. If you notice that your child is struggling or they are bringing up feelings that point to a mental illness, Sustain Recovery urges you to take your child’s struggles seriously. The earlier you get your child help, the sooner the recovery process can begin.

    Warning Signs of an Anxiety Disorder

    As a parent, it can be difficult to decide which behaviors are typical of regular adolescent experiences and which behaviors point toward a sign of an anxiety disorder. After all, anxiety is a common thing that all of us has experienced at some point or another. There is, however, a time when too much anxiety can cause serious damage. Seven percent of children between the ages of 3 and 17 experience issues with anxiety each year, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness

    There are a few different types of anxiety disorders and they each have different symptoms. All anxiety disorders, however, have this in common: “a persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” Below are some common symptoms of anxiety that exist across most anxiety disorders.

      Emotional Symptoms

    • Feelings of apprehension or dread
    • Feeling tense or jumpy
    • Restlessness or irritability 
    • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger

    Physical Symptoms

    •  Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
    •  Sweating, tremors, and twitches
    • Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
    • Upset stomach, frequent urination, or diarrhea

    While these symptoms generally appear in a variety of anxiety disorders, each type also has its own symptoms that can interfere with daily life. Below are some types of anxiety disorders and some of their specific symptoms.

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    • Chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday life
    • Extreme exhaustion due to constant worrying
    • Accompanied by headaches, tension, or nausea

    Social Anxiety Disorder

    • Fear of social interaction
    • Fear of humiliation
    • Extreme shyness
    • Panic attacks can occur as a reaction to anticipated or forced social interaction

    Panic Disorder

    •  Panic attacks
    • Sudden feelings of terror which can occur repeatedly and without warning
    • Can manifest in physical symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, trouble  breathing


    • Intense and irrational fear about a certain place, event, or object
    • Specific things can trigger this panic
    • Avoidance can occur to try to avoid the trigger

    Warning Signs of a Depressive Disorder

    While sadness is an emotion that is a healthy reaction to common situations, depression is much more than just feeling sad. Depression can occur in the absence of a negative or traumatic event and can disrupt your child’s daily functioning. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 13% of children between the ages of 12 to 17 have a major depressive episode each year.

    Depression can look different from person to person, but most people’s daily functions are impacted for more than two weeks when they are struggling with depression. Below are some common symptoms that present in a majority of people with a depressive disorder 


    • Changes in sleep
    •  Changes in appetite
    • Lack of concentration
    • Loss of energy
    • Lack of interest in activities
    • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
    • Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
    • Physical aches and pains
    • Suicidal thoughts

    There are many things that can contribute to depression, which point toward the belief that there is no single cause of depression. Trauma can play a role in contributing to depression, especially when the trauma occurs at an early age. The brains of adolescents who experience trauma are often impacted regarding how their brains respond to fear and stress, all of which can contribute to depression. It’s also important to look at family history of depression because it has been linked to a genetic component. Furthermore, some groups of people are more likely to experience depression. Those who do not have their basic needs met, such as those who live in poverty, are more prone to developing depression. Those struggling with substance abuse are also more likely to suffer from depression. 

    Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental illnesses that can plague adolescents. While there are other challenges that adolescents may face, these two particular mental health issues stand at the forefront of what adolescents are struggling with today. There are clear signs and symptoms of both depression and anxiety that can help you determine if you need to be concerned. Being proactive about addressing potential mental health issues is key to treating a mental illness. At Sustain Recovery we understand what you and your child are going through. If your child is struggling with depression, anxiety, or are exhibiting other concerning signs, be proactive and reach out to Sustain Recovery today. We can help you get your child the help they need. Call us now at (949) 407-9052. We can’t wait to speak with you and get your family the help you need.


  5. Street Names for Heroin

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    street names for heroin

    Heroin is a highly addictive opioid, which is illegally manufactured and is used for recreational purposes. When an individual takes Heroin, they can experience euphoria, drowsiness and pain relief. There are many different varieties of Heroin, and they depend on which region of the world they are produced. Heroin can be white, brown or black tar. Estimates show that over 4 million people in the United States have tried Heroin and approximately 23% of those people have developed an addiction to the drug.

    Signs of Heroin Use

    How can one identify if an individual has a Heroin addiction? Some signs of Heroin use are:

    • Depression
    • Decline in grades
    • Hanging out with a new group of friends
    • Behavioral changes
    • Increased absences from school or work
    • Finding syringes, baggies, or balloons with suspicious contents.
    • Neglecting hobbies and other activities
    • Apathy
    • Drowsiness
    • Slowed movements
    • Attention and memory problems.
    • Slurred speech.
    • Impaired judgment.

    Common Names for Heroin

    Because Heroin is produced in so many different places, it is called by many different names. Some common street names for Heroin include Smack, Dope, Mud, Horse, Skag, Junk, H, Black tar, Black pearl, Brown sugar, Witch hazel, Birdie powder, Dragon, Hero, White stuff, China white and Boy.

    There are also Spanish names for the drug, including Bombita, Chicle, Gato, La Buena, Tiger, Zoquete, Vidrio, Caballo, Carga and Carne.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, as the names differ by country, and slang terms can change frequently, as the users and dealers of Heroin constantly try to come up with new street names to keep ahead of the authorities.

    Common Names for Heroin with other Drugs

    Drugs such as Marijuana, LSC, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Morphine, and cold medication can be combined with Heroin, and those combinations have different names, such as Chocolate Chip Cookies, Beast, Snowball, Cheese, etc. Some commonly seen combinations and their street names are:

    • Heroin and marijuana: A-bomb or atom bomb
    • Heroin and Xanax: Chocolate bars
    • Heroin and crack cocaine: Dragon rock, Primo
    • Heroin and cocaine: Dynamite
    • Heroin, cocaine, marijuana: El diablo
    • Heroin and ecstasy: H-bomb
    • Heroin, LSD, PCP: LBJ
    • Heroin and LSD: Neon nod.

    The consequences of using Heroin can be deadly on it’s own, and when combined with other dangerous drugs, the risk of overdose and harmful effects is increased significantly.

    The Importance of Knowing Heroin Street Names

    If one suspects that their loved one is addicted to Heroin, then it’s important to know the drug’s street names. The individual may be using these street names in an attempt to avoid their friends and family learning about their drug problem. Being educated about the different names will mean being more equipped to catch a loved one’s Heroin abuse, before it spirals into dependence and addiction.


    Sustain Recovery offers long term recovery programs for adolescents. Our gender separate programs provide a safe environment for young adults to learn about living substance free. Contact us to find out more.

  6. Sobriety and Depression

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    Sobriety and DepressionOnce you embrace sobriety, everything seems a lot better. Finally you can wake up without a hangover. You can maintain normal relationships–relationships which benefit both yourself and the other person. Sobriety is being in touch with reality, and basing your decisions off real consequences and real benefits.

    Sobriety for an alcoholic is self-honesty. It’s shutting down that little devil on your shoulder who says Have just one beer! again and again and again. With this triumph comes a sense of power, and from that, depression begins to lift. After all, addiction and mental illness—most often depression—are practically two sides of the same coin.


    Sobriety and Depression

    Almost any recovering alcoholic can recall how their “downward spiral” began: innocently, at first. Maybe they drank on the weekends—or most days, but just a beer or two. That’s how it can re-start, too. Alcohol dependence is a progressive illness. Either it awakens a predisposition for clinical depression or it speeds it up dramatically. Keeping depression at bay means keeping alcohol out of your brain. The urge to drink will come, especially toward the end of your treatment, when you’re feeling confident—confident enough to believe you can start drinking casually again. It’s insulting to think we need some form of aftercare to keep us on your feet, self-aware, and strong, but we do.


    Sobriety and Aftercare

    For every stigma attached to mental illness–clinical depression, anxiety, and alcoholism–there is another attached the treatment for that illness. AA is widely criticized for being a “cult.” Pharmaceuticals are mythologized as zombifying-slave-pills. Many just don’t realize that treatment for mental illness is a trial and error process; that they take some time and group effort from the patient, their family, and their healthcare providers.

    No two individuals respond to the same prescription or psychologist the same way. The brain is complicated; brains are complicated, because they’re all so different. And that’s what the therapy, the group meetings, the sponsors, and the support network are there for: to provide you with individualized support through the sobriety journey. It’s an ongoing project.


    Sobriety and Psychological Struggle

    Sobriety won’t be easy. Cravings rarely vanish once rehab is complete; they can persist for weeks, months, sometimes even years. It’s not entirely impossible that you’ll be able to drink socially again sometime in the future, but it’s also up to you—and whoever knows you and cares—to make that call responsibly. Talk to your family often, make sobriety an open subject, and always keep a few outside voices in your head.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

© 2023 OCTLC Inc.