Society is suffering from anxiety at an alarming and apparent rate. Teens frequently experience anxiety from the daily stressors they encounter, while navigating the grown-up world. Even children in elementary school are being diagnosed with anxiety.
How can we help improve anxiety in children?
Stress confronts our children in many forms: noise, electromagnetic radiation, poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, conflict, fear, insecurity, grief, loneliness, pressure, screen overuse, addiction, and currently the pandemic we are all living through.
As adults when we experience stressful situations, we sometimes feel anxious. With anxiety our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) becomes activated and we are in survival mode. In ‘fight or flight’ mode, digestive processes are halted, the heart rate is accelerated, blood is shunted from vital organs to the legs and arms in preparation to deal with the imminent threat, and finally the nervous system provides a burst of energy and strength to mobilize us.
When children experience anxiety, the same physiological process is happening, but their ability to understand and deal with it, often falls short due to the innocence of youth. ‘Fight or flight’ is a wonderful adaptation of the human body if one is confronted by an angry bear, but not very healthy or helpful for children who are just trying to navigate their way through this big complicated world. Children with anxiety are struggling to manage the uncertainty of their current situation or the future.
As parents, we strive to educate ourselves and reach out for help when in need.
Something simple and effective we can do as parents to help our kids is to listen to them. Children and youth also need tools to help regulate their neurological responses to stressful situations. Lifestyle and coping strategies help children learn to manage stress and decrease its impact on their mental health. For healthy brain development, it is integral to address physiological and emotional stressors and give kids the tools required to effectively regulate their neurological response. The skills that they develop now, will determine how they navigate stressful and anxiety-provoking situations in the future.
Identify the causative factors and help children cope with stress is the goal of treatment
Kids have their own unique DNA and life experiences; therefore, stress affects all children differently. The team of naturopathic practitioners at Boucher focuses on listening to your child and determining the root causes of their stress and anxiety and how these affect their emotions and behaviours. Familial and environmental factors have been shown to play a significant role in the development of anxiety. Bullying and cyberbullying have also become major sources of anxiety in our children. In addition, nutritional status, food sensitivities and sleep are some other factors that can contribute to anxiety.
Naturopathic physicians may use many techniques to support a child with stress and anxiety such as: guided meditation, breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, journaling, nutritional supplements, food sensitivity testing, elimination diets, herbal formulas, Bach Flower remedies, Traditional Asian Medicine (acupressure or acupuncture), and homeopathy.
The goal of Naturopathic medicine is to provide the parents and child with the tools to effectively manage daily stressors and reduce the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system that triggers anxiety. Each treatment plan is specifically tailored to the individual child and their very special circumstances.
This article was written by Dr. Lori Ferguson, ND, a member of the dedicated team at Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic. Naturopathic Medicine offers natural primary health care for the whole family. Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic treats acute conditions like colds and flus, as well as chronic illnesses like arthritis, allergies and diabetes. Naturopathic Medicine can also be used in the treatment of mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety. After a thorough assessment, naturopathic treatments are selected using a holistic approach based on the needs of each patient. Call 604.540.2873 to book your appointment with a naturopathic doctor today.
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