New Study Reveals Effect of Healthy Lifestyle Risk Factors for Depression and Anxiety in Teens

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues and are often co-occurring. While they are both neurological conditions that are influenced by family history, a new study looking at behavioral risk factors of depression and anxiety in teens found that obesity, limited physical activity, and an unhealthy diet are correlated with higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Self-Image and Self-Esteem in Teen Girls

According to this study, they noted that girls struggling with their weight were 43% more likely to develop anxiety or depression compared to their peers. Girls are more likely to receive negative messages about their body that affect their sense of self and relationship with food; however, boys who are overweight were 33% more likely to struggle with the same issues. They discuss the role of body image and self-esteem as risk factors, but also suggest that physical health is important for emotional well being.

Physical and Emotional Health

While depression and anxiety are characterized by negative and ruminating thoughts and unstable moods, symptoms often manifest physically. Over time, they can lead to chronic health problems. Symptoms of depression and anxiety may include behavioral changes and changes in executive functioning, including:

  • Change in eating habits
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Frequently overwhelmed
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How Trails Can Help

We believe that lifestyle changes are key for long-term success in managing depression and anxiety. Instead of focusing on specific symptoms, we look at individuals holistically and offer wellness programming to help teach students how to incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives. Our wellness program consists of mindfulness, expressive arts, yoga, experiential self-care, group wellness discussions, and culinary arts.
The objectives of our wellness programming include:

  • Understanding the mind-body connection.
  • Encouraging self-care and positive self image.
  • Using experiential outdoor activities to build confidence and emotional strength.

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that helps teens ages 10-17 who are struggling with depression and anxiety. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world. By removing teens from their fast-paced environment into a safe, nurturing, and peaceful environment, they are able to focus on improving and reflecting upon their behavior. Trails Carolina gives students the tools they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

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Avatar of Jeremy Whitworth

Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.