Teenagers with Depression Learn Coping Strategies Through Wilderness Therapy

If your teen has lost desire to hang out with friends, has difficulty concentrating or remembering, loses appetite, or can’t seem to go to sleep at night, you may write it off as normal teenage behavior. However, if these or other anti-social behaviors continue for any length of time, it may indicate a more serious issue. Teenagers with depression are often times categorized as “just going through changes” or being “overly hormonal,” but when the sadness and retraction do not go away within a few weeks, it is more likely your teenager is suffering from depression and may not know how to cope. Depression in teens is more common than you might think. Wilderness therapy at Trails Carolina can help.

How do you decipher between normal developmental behavior in teenagers and teenagers with depression?
Signs of Depression In Teens

  • Desire not go to school
  • Decrease in social activities
  • Lack of appetite
  • Obsession with physical appearance
  • Retracting from peer group

While you may see any of these at one time or another, James McCracken of the University of California, Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Institute says a sudden appearance of more than a couple of these behaviors can be a sign of teenagers with depression. While you can address teen depression in your home or with a weekly psychiatrist meeting, you may need a more comprehensive solution, especially if the depression has led to substance abuse, school problems or a defiant teenager.

What is outdoor therapy?

Wilderness programs for troubled teens combine the benefits of a therapeutic treatment program with the healing and freedom found outside. Wilderness therapy allows therapists to observe behaviors and teen mental health in actual situations, discovering things they may not realize by simply talking with your teen. Outdoor therapy programs push teens away from their comfort zone and address their behaviors and emotions without distractions. Wilderness therapy also teaches teenagers with depression coping strategies.

Lifestyle Change

There are some basic life changes that can drastically affect your mood, like eating healthily, increasing physical activity, and a consistent sleep schedule. Teen wilderness programs provide an outdoor environment that promotes all around health, physical, emotional, and mental.

Positive Self-Image

Teen wilderness programs also teach teenagers how to increase their self-image, by promoting independence and teaching new skills. They will not only learn how to cope with depressing thoughts, but celebrate accomplishments by overcoming problems. Teenagers with depression can discover just how much they are capable of and begin to change the way they look at themselves and others.

Teen Wilderness Programs

If you are a parent with a depressed and defiant teenager and is causing problems with their home and school life, do not wait to seek help. They may need help getting to the root of what’s driving their emotions and behavior and how to cope with these stresses long-term.  If you would like more information on behavioral therapy and Trails Wilderness program, please call 800-975-7303 to speak with an admissions person about your family’s situation.

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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: https://trailscarolina.com/common-ground-podcast/ 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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