It is no surprise that one of the greatest concerns among today’s teens is mental health, particularly as it pertains to anxiety and depression. Many teens strive to achieve and perform at such a high level, they fail to recognize the negative effects that stress can have upon their minds, emotions and physical bodies.
With anxiety and depression on the rise, we, as a society, need to start the discussion about how to effectively overcome it. More importantly, we need to talk about what is contributing to the increase in the decline of mental health. There are countless factors that can impact our mental well being which include stress, past trauma, environmental toxins, sensory over stimulation, diet, inflammation, bacterial infection, prescription drugs etc. The internet can point you in a million different directions when it comes to treating anxiety and depression naturally.
Through decades of study and personal experience, I have concluded that most of the underlying issues that give rise to anxiety and depression are stress related and cognitively based. Cognitive simply means thinking and perception. Since we cannot separate the mind from its effect on the body, it can be difficult to know where to start the treatment. Since I believe that we are 3 parts of a whole- mind, body and spirit, we must treat all aspects of the self. If your child is suffering from symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, and you would prefer natural treatment, I hope that you will find the following keys helpful.
I. Get Honest
Anything that is hidden has the power to oppress and debilitate us. Therefore it is so important to expose things and bring them to the light. When we open up and talk about things that bother us, those things will begin to lose their power over us. The reason why most people do not talk about their troubles to others is because there is a sense of shame and guilt attached to them. We often wonder what others will think about our issues and we get embarrassed at the thought of letting someone know how we think and feel inside.
Because we are human, we all have thought, felt and done things that we wished we hadn’t. Likewise, we have said and done things that hurt ourselves and others. Our biggest problem in humanity is that we suffer from faulty thinking and instead of dealing with it, we run from the very thing that can free us to live a more peaceful and joyful life. Mental health is such a huge issue and we can see its effects by the addictive behavior that most of us exhibit. It doesn’t matter whether the addiction is to work, drugs, pornography, control, or food, the effects are all destructive to our wellbeing.
When we suffer from anxiety and/or depression to the point whereby it is affecting our daily lives in a negative way, TELL SOMEONE! It is important that we reach out to a trusted family member, friend, therapist, pastor, etc.
Make sure before you reach out that you have some sort of relationship with the person on the other end of your confessions. Make sure that this is a person who is full of love and support for you. Someone who will not be quick to bring about judgment to you. This is a time when you need a listening ear and not a voice of condemnation. Nobody wants to feel worse about things that they are struggling to overcome. We want to get out of the victim role and the only way to do this is to heal our minds so that we can begin to think clearly again.
II. Rule Out any Physical Imbalances
As a psychologist speaking from a biological perspective, I know that what affects the mind affects the body and vice versa. Medical research understands life stressors have an emotional impact upon our physical bodies. When we get anxious, our bodies react by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These chemical reactions have a built-in job to protect us when we are in danger. This becomes a huge problem when there is no immediate physical danger, but our thoughts and emotions are telling us the opposite.
Our adrenal glands can get overstimulated to the point that they become exhausted. When this happens, our natural immune system is weakened, and we have trouble fighting off infections and other physical illnesses. Our thoughts and emotions are so powerful that they can make us ill as well as heal us. We want to focus on the healing part.
Hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies are things that your medical doctor can test for by doing bloodwork. If you are someone under the age of 18, it’s important that you get the help of your parents or guardian.
In my own personal experience and medical research, I have come to understand that there are some nutrients that are heavily depleted when we are under a lot of emotional stress. These nutrients include magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, D, calcium and zinc. Therefore, it is vital that we are tested for adequate levels of vitamins and minerals in the blood. Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression benefit from magnesium supplements alone, as most people have been found to be deficient in magnesium.
The bottom line is that you need to make sure that there is nothing physically going on that needs to be initially addressed. Toxic chemicals (prescription drugs, over the counter medications, alcohol and other drugs, lead, mercury, aluminum, mold etc.), imbalanced hormones (thyroxin, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc.) and nutritional deficiencies can cause all sorts of emotional instability.
III. Don’t Stuff the Pain
There are numerous reports of people who have resolved panic attacks and symptoms of depression by allowing painful emotions to fully release from the body. Most of these instances stem from a person’s experience of past trauma. Thoughts and emotions are living things and they can build up and get buried within the body. There are numerous books that deal with the issue of buried emotions and how they can rule our lives. There have been studies on the content of emotional tears as compared to the content of tears caused by irritation. The study of emotional tears has revealed high levels of toxins. These toxic tears bring about a healing when released. The important thing to remember here is that there is a difference between shallow crying that can drain the body and the “deep crying” that can help heal the body and mind. I can always tell the difference because a deep cry will feel gut wrenching but will also feel liberating, especially afterwards. It is as though a dam breaks and allows all the water to come rushing forth. The pressure and the tension lifts and you feel a great sense of relief. Both a good belly cry and a good belly laugh are healing for us. In my opinion, laughter and tears can work much the same way as medicine can.
My advice to parents is to never try and stop your child from crying, especially when there is a deep hurt that needs to grieve, it is vital that they release stuffed emotions. Their mental health depends on it. Releasing emotional burdens make room for more peace and joy in its place.
What is important to remember is that when we feel emotions start to rise up, allow them to surface no matter what it looks like or where you need to go to feel comfortable enough to let the tears flow.
As a culture, we have done ourselves a great disservice in teaching our young children, particularly little boys, that they should not cry. In my opinion, it has only perpetuated a generation of aggression and violence. Ironically, although the emotion is important, the underlying belief about not expressing the emotion is the real issue. Always remember that “when we feel weak, we are strong!"
IV. Deal with Anger
I am sure that you have heard the word “forgiveness.” Well it is not just some buzz word that “religious” people say. It is a serious issue that we all, to varying degrees, must face in life. I wished that when I was young, someone would have counseled me on the importance of not holding onto anger. Anger is like a cancer, it grows if left unchecked and can eventually destroy us. Through my research and personal experience, I have come to believe that unresolved anger can manifest as depression. I would even add that it could manifest itself as both anxiety and depression. They often go hand in hand. I think of anxiety and depression as a seesaw. When one manifests strongly, the other seems to lay dormant and vice versa.
So, you may ask, how do you deal with the anger? The best answer that I can give is to feel it inside and get support in order to let it go. When someone hurts us, we have a choice. We can react and retaliate, or we can begin the self-examination process and trust our higher self to help us heal it. It also goes back to allowing the emotions to release. Often when we get angry, there is sadness or fear just underneath which needs to be processed. When the pain arises, our only choice is to stuff it, numb it or feel it. Again, stuffing and numbing emotional pain only hurts us. It doesn’t make it go away, it will only lay dormant until the next time we are triggered and exposed by it.
I am not saying that what someone did to us was okay but when we give up the right to be right and let go of the burden of judgement, we are the ones living free.
How do you do this? It starts with an act of our will. Sometimes all we can do is pray by simply saying the words and realizing that we need help to forgive and let burdens go. Speaking the words and asking for help can start the healing process that we may desperately need. We do not want to continue to carry this burden because it will get much heavier and cause all kinds of problems in life. Nothing will seem to go right in our relationships. The sooner we acknowledge our anger and work to rid ourselves of it, the better off that we will be in life.
V. Stop Criticizing Yourself
If we will take the time to listen to our thoughts, we may be surprised at just how often we are criticizing ourselves for something. (Judging and criticizing others is also a reflection of our inner world). I have learned that we cannot heal if we are constantly criticizing ourselves.
It is important as we work on our own healing that we do not allow ourselves to judge the process. If we have to yell and scream in our pillow at night or if we need to cry ourselves to sleep, so be it. The key to healing is to get vulnerable and let it all come forth as it comes. When we get afraid, we need to reach out to others or talk to ourselves and say, “everything is going to be alright.”
Everything will always turn out alright. When we hang in there, the sun will begin to shine again. It is like the seasons, if we wait long enough, they will change. What have we walked through that we haven’t survived?
It’s important that we are experiencing progress in the journey and not just going around the mountain repeatedly. As we heal, we will be able to look back and see how much we have overcome. Things that use to bother us will no longer matter.
Judgement and condemnation can be our worst enemy. Furthermore, when we condemn others, we condemn ourselves. Everyone is at fault for judging, whether it be directed at ourselves, others or God. If we believe in God or a higher power, then we must admit that we have been mad at God at one time or another. We get mad at God because our lives have not quite turned out the way that we would have hoped. Many people are angry with God but would never admit to it because of the guilt involved. This goes back to the importance of getting honest with ourselves and others.
We create our image of God from what we have learned from the environment and the mindsets passed down to us by our parents/guardians and ancestry. If we believe in love, then our God is love. Everything that is not love comes from fear. We were not created to fear but to love and there is no place for judgement and condemnation in love.
If you would like more information regarding education on mental health, please contact WAY Education Services at wayeducationservices.com or email Pamela Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.