By Kai Bragg

Think of any four children or adolescents you know—be it your own, family or friends. Do you have them in your mind? One of those four suffers now or will suffer with anxiety before their 18th birthday, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Being a kid isn’t easy. Whether struggling to complete a difficult assignment, or trying to fit into a new group of friends, the pressures and anxieties our children experience are every bit as real as our own. By familiarizing ourselves with a few simple techniques and supporting supplements, we can provide our children with all the tools they need to be able to deal with life’s challenges.

When it comes to helping your child cope with anxiety, stress, or depression, there are many natural solutions readily available to parents. However, recognizing the symptoms is the first step. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety and depression triggers physical and/or behavioral changes like stomachache, headache, changes in attitude, changes in social engagement, excessive sleeping, aggression and unexpected physical changes. Talking with your child is a great way to gain an idea of what’s going wrong. It’s often surprising how much we can learn if we simply ask.

Ensuring a good diet is essential to a child’s health. In addition to providing the nutrition needed to help them deal with the stresses of life, many foods contain health-promoting components. For example, tryptophan is found in oats, flaxseeds, and turkey and is an amino acid that helps aid the body in its natural stress responses. Able to provide more than a post-Thanksgiving nap, incorporating foods with high levels of tryptophan is an easy way to help support their natural stress responses.

Exercise offers another line of defense supporting your child’s mental and physical health. Often, anxiety and depression are exacerbated by a buildup of hormones. Cortisol, one of the primary hormones responsible for stress responses, appears in much lower concentrations in children who regularly exercise.

In addition to exercise and diet there are also a variety of mood-supporting vitamins and supplements. With safe, effective, non-prescription options for all age ranges, incorporating a supplement, such as B-12 or methylfolate, can aid in the body’s natural nervous system stress responses. Able to be purchased in most stores, these choices provide a great alternative to traditional medications.

For kids suffering from anxiety and depression, the world can be a scary place. Luckily, we as parents can help. By recognizing the symptoms, providing the proper nutrition and exercise and arming ourselves with a few simple coping techniques, we can better prepare our children to deal with the stressors of life. 

Teens require more sleep than adults and children, 9 to 10 hours, because of an increase in the sleep hormone, melatonin, which peaks during adolescence.

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