Family Matters…How family interaction can affect your child

by on July 22nd, 2010 at 7:00 am

During childhood, we develop both physically and mentally to prepare ourselves for the challenges of adulthood. The skills we learn during games and interactions with others have a profound effect on our individuality.

When a child suffers from symptoms of depression and anxiety, many of those activities can be severely disrupted– and cognitive development can greatly suffer as a result.

It is estimated that 1 in 10 children suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Anxiety disorders are diagnosed in just as many boys as girls, and can affect children even in the stages of infancy. It is devastating to see a child suffer from symptoms of depression, and extreme care must be taken to appropriately address the often painful symptoms.

Parents and siblings of a depressed child may feel guilty and helpless, but it is important to remain positive and focus on the small things that can make a big difference in the depressed individual’s outlook.

Similar to identifying anxiety disorders and depression in adults, diagnosing children is not a simple task, either. Different evaluations will be performed and a treatment plan will be recommended based on a thorough examination by the child’s physician.

Variations in a child’s behavior that seem to have no apparent cause should be carefully evaluated, as well. Sadness that results from a loss, including death of a loved one, changing schools, moving, or that lasts more than a few weeks should be considered possible depression and checked out.

Other anxiety disorders in children can cause more severe symptoms. In the case of bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), mood swings will be intense and abrupt with alternating periods of hyperactivity, sadness, explosive tantrums and rages. Sometimes the symptoms of bipolar disorder overlap or are mistaken with attention-deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder.

Unfortunately, anxiety disorders and depression are complex illnesses, and there is no specific test to definitively identify a single cause. Risk factors that could predispose a child to depression include a family history of mental illness and loss of a parent at a young age due to death, abandonment or divorce. However, symptoms have also been observed in infants before some of these factors come into play, so it is believed some forms of depression in children are related to chemical imbalances– although depression can result as    a combination of factors, as well.

Some symptoms of an anxiety disorder can be easily noticed by a parent, sibling, or teacher. They can resemble symptoms of adult depression and may include:

  • Prolonged sadness and irritability
  • Low self-esteem or feelings or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Appetite changes
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger
  • Headaches and stomachaches or other unexplained physical pains
  • Fluctuations in activity and energy levels (the child either becomes more lethargic or more hyperactive)
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Parents should be aware that a healthy diet provides the groundwork for both physical and mental health for the entire family. Natural remedies combined with a healthy lifestyle can greatly support balanced mood and well-being. Overall health is especially supported through a balanced diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean meats.

Regular exercise -preferably outdoors-will enhance blood circulation and the delivery of fresh oxygen to the brain and major organs to help maintain systemic balance. Also, when possible, try to practice a group activity or sport that includes the entire family. This strengthens bonds and helps the entire family group feel supported and positive to conquer the challenges lying ahead.

Mood Tonicis a homeopathic remedy that calms emotional outbursts and reduces mood swings.

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