The current epidemic of mental distress in children and teens is shedding light on how poorly we address mental health in this country. My hope is that a more holistic approach to our emotional wellbeing becomes the standard of care as a result of this crisis but in the meantime there are many options for taking an integrative approach to mental health.
The CDC defines mental health disorders as “critical changes in the way children behave, learn, or deal with their emotions which can lead to distress and affect their cognitive functioning and behaviors” (Okwori, 2022).
Reading this definition makes it obvious why the pandemic has increased rates of mental health concerns, but the number of kids and teens who were dealing with mental health disorders was already rising before the dawn of COVID-19. “ In 2019, 13 percent of adolescents reporting having a major depressive episode, a 60 percent increase from 2007”
Rates of of depression, anxiety and suicide are at an all time high. While it might be easy to blame worldly events such as the pandemic and all its fall out, other causative theories are worth considering. Since naturopathic medicine aims to identify the cause of disease, taking a holistic approach to possible etiologies is important.
One theory, called the cytokine theory of depression, posits that depression may be linked to inflammation.
How’s homeschooling going? How successful have you felt in your efforts to work from home? Does your child have attention issues that are making online schoolwork challenging? Have you also found yourself staring at your computer screen or re-reading the same sentence three times wondering how any of us are supposed to stay focused at a time like this? This working and schooling from home phenomenon is new to most of us and the experience may be highlighting focus issues in you or your family members. Even those of us without an official diagnosis of an attention disorder may feel similarly given that our body’s stress response can make it challenging to have the focus we have may have pre-pandemic.