In my past blogs, I have discussed the fact that Anxiety and Depression is on the Rise and The Changing Trends That May Lead to Depression. Fighting the battle with anxiety and depression is not easy, but there are things we can do to help our loved ones and/or ourselves. This battle will look different for each person. Some people have both anxiety and depression while others only battle depression. If you or your loved one battles both, there are things you should know. The following article, 10 Things You Can Do to Literally Change Your Brain, explains what anxiety looks like in our brain. 

We can say that no one is “born” with social anxiety.  You may remember circumstances and events from very early in life, but there is no “gene” that codes for social anxiety, and there is not an immutable set of genes that cause social anxiety to occur.

As you learn, and then practice, the cognitive methods, strategies, and concepts, a new neural pathway begins to form.  The more you practice, the more this new neural pathway or association grows.

If we can help retrain our children’s brains to not feel as anxious, hopefully they will also find improvement with their depression. 

Other ways to help us in our war against anxiety and depression can be found in the following article: 5 Ways to Help Yourself Through Depression. This article goes into a bit more depth about five important ways to help fight these feelings our children may be experiencing.

  1. Exercise.
  2. Nurture yourself with good nutrition. 
  3. Identify troubles, but don’t dwell on them.
  4. Express yourself. 
  5. Try to notice good things.

To reinforce the importance of exercise, I recently viewed a video of a young man trying to make a difference in schools. To say the least, I was so impressed by his idea. So many children view school as a cause of their anxiety and some of those will act out. Instead of treating the issue, as a society we so easily give a consequence. This man is trying to change that with yoga. Take a minute to watch the video, Instead of detention, these students get meditation. Kudos to him! I truly hope this type of behavior therapy takes off in our schools. 

I would like to add one thing to number six. Many sources state that it is good to keep a “I’m Thankful Journal.” I love this idea, but I have also heard of an extension of this journal that I believe to be quite important. Have your child write something they did that was helpful that day. Where were they needed or appreciated? In the article by a Harvard Medical School Can Relationships Boost Longivity and Wellbeing?, they state the importance of social connection and health.

Social connections appear to be good for health. “People who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected,” says Dr. Waldinger.

Loneliness appears to be toxic. “People who are more isolated than they want to be are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain function declines sooner, and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely,” explains Dr. Waldinger.

Social networks as important as exercise, diet across the span of our lives also dives into the importance of social relationships. Knowing that we are important in this world is a factor in our health. Even though interactions may be very hard for a child that would rather be alone due to their depression, help your child find good relationships so they feel wanted and needed in this world.

The more social ties people have at an early age, the better their health is at the beginnings and ends of their lives, according to a new study. The study is the first to definitively link social relationships with concrete measures of physical well-being such as abdominal obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure, all of which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Another way to help conquer this epidemic is to read according to the article, Reading Can Combat Anxiety and Depression. 

The therapeutic power of literature is amazing. When you’re invaded by sadness, anxiety, and stress, reading novels and poetry can transform your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

So you’ve tried it all; exercise, nutrition, talking therapies, acupuncture, journals, reading, getting involved, and the many other types of ideas that have come across the table. Sometimes, with any illness, our bodies need medication, and we need to make our children understand that it’s okay to accept the help of medication. It is not a weakness to use the measures available to us to get better mentally or physically. Sometimes, it has to be part of the fight.

Our world is changing to a more technical, scheduled society. But that doesn’t mean our minds and bodies were meant for a world that leaves no time for basic necessities. Our natural beings were meant to stop, breathe, and enjoy the world around us that we have allowed ourselves to become too busy to appreciate. Take a walk with your child, spend time in nature. The article, Benefits Of Ecotherapy: Being In Nature Fights Depression, Improves Mental Health And Well-Being, takes a look at a study that proves that nature should be a part of our child’s journey.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Essex and published by the mental health organization Mind found that taking a walk in nature reduced depression scores in 71 percent of participants. Researchers compared the effect with a control group who also took walk, but in a shopping centre. Only 45 percent of the shopping center walkers had reduced depression scores, while 22 percent of them actually felt more depressed.

Let’s start taking something off their plate instead of adding one more thing, read together or separately, and don’t be afraid to seek help for yourself and your child. No one should feel they are battling this alone.