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Naturopathic Steps to Better Mental Health

This is Mental Health Awareness Week.  Typically, concern for mental health focuses on adults, however, children are increasingly found to have challenges that relate to their thoughts, behaviour, and mood.  Below are a few important points that can help us all.
1. Keep in motion.  I tell my patients: to help with your emotions, keep in motion.  Get active, participate in sports, and do regular exercise.  This helps release nervous tension, transforms aggressive tendencies into something safe and physical, and supports a better mood.  Those with mental illness may face additional challenges such as fatigue, low motivation, and difficulty sleeping.  Getting positive motivation coaching, accessible health care providers and a personal trainer will provide extra support.
2. Eat well.  Those with mental illness may not eat well, and are at risk of several nutrient deficiencies.  Testing can help uncover where the deficiencies lie, and how to focus treatment.  Some deficiencies can also predispose people to develop mental illnesses; for example, a recent study by Tufts University researchers found that adults with low vitamin B12 levels had greater rates of depression, and those with low vitamin B6 levels had difficulties with attention and executive function.  Those with anxiety also tend to have these deficiences, as well as low levels of magnesium, calcium, and omega-3 fats.
3. Help the kids.  In addition to the above points, some important points for children’s mental health:
  • foster communication – ask your child what they think and feel (about their day, their teachers, the movie you just watched together)
  • be your childs number one supporter – let him/her know that you are on his/her side
  • allow them a chance to express themselves indirectly – eg: painting, drama, telling stories, working with clay, drumming,etc.
  • keep your childs schedule predictable, and give predictable consequences to their inappropriate behaviour
  • reduce the distractions around them when focus is important
  • be in communication with the teachers, they are your other set of eyes and ears to know how your child is doing

4. Keep aware of the signs of mental illness:

  • Preschool:
    • Problems behaving in a normal manner
    • Restlessness or hyperactivity
    • Inability to sleep
    • Constant nightmares
    • Extreme anxiousness or crying
    • Excessive aggression or disrespect for authority
    • Regular temper tantrums
    • Persistent or recurrent tummy aches
  • Grade School:
    • High amounts of fear or overwhelming worry
    • Uncontrollable hyperactivity
    • Rapid decline in performance at school
    • Giving up on friends or interests
    • Large fluctuations in weight
    • Sleep habit changes
    • Obvious depression
    • Hearing voices
    • Hallucinations
  • Adolescent:
    • Damaging or destructive behavior
    • Attempt or threatens to leave the home
    • Isolation from friends and family
    • Openly talks about causing harm
  • Adults:
    • Changes in eating and/or sleeping habits
    • Lack of interest in daily activities
    • Social withdrawal
    • Unpredictable or extreme changes in mood
    • Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
    • Long periods of sadness, anger, anxiety, irritability or agitation
    • Persistent physical pain
    • Thoughts of suicide

5. Use naturopathic medicines.  Naturopathic doctors can effectively use herbs, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, and other methods, that can help improve mental-emotional function. 

For more information, or to book a naturopathic assessment and treatment program to improve your mental-emotional and overall health, call 905-597-7201.

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