How to Treat Anxiety in Children – Integrative Medicine Approach
In today’s world, stress and anxiety more prevalent than ever. We now see this with the current pandemic! Stress and anxiety are having an impact on our physical and emotional well being.
Prolonged stress and anxiety/ This result in high levels of cortisol, which can reduce levels of serotonin, which in turn leads to anxiety, panic and melancholic depression. Other effects include weight gain, increased blood sugar levels, suppressed immune system, digestive disorders and heart disease.
One in five Australians experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety and substance use disorder. Approximately 50% of people with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
An Inconvenient Truth
For many who suffer from depression and anxiety, their medical doctor routinely prescribes antidepressants. Yet, there have been some concerns about antidepressants. A case in point is only 50 % of patients respond to SSRI drugs, and effective remission occurs less than 30% of the time during the course of treatment. So, is it still appropriate to prescribe SSRIs?
Professor Peter C Gøtzsche in 2017 published a paper in the British Medical Journal. The paper revealed that SSRI’s increases aggression in children and adolescents. Other studies have revealed that mass shootings, stabbings and senseless violent acts are committed by those under the influence of psychotropic drugs or experiencing serious withdrawal from them.
Integrative Medicine Approach
An approach to treat anxiety disorders used by practitioners of Integrative Medicine is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is a ‘talk therapy’ that teaches kids, and teens how to manage and reframe worry, fear, and anxiety.
Short-term herbal treatments are often included in many Integrative Medicine protocols for treating anxiety. Typical interventions include:
Chamomile is often prescribed for anxiety disorders. Chamomile acts on the primary brain enzymes responsible for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) metabolism.
Lavender oil is also suggested to modulate GABAergic neurotransmission.
Lemon balm is effective in children but its mode of action is not fully understood. Target candidates include GABA, Norepinephrine, Neuropeptides and Serotonin. Lemon balm reduces some symptoms of anxiety, such as nervousness and excitability. Lemon balm is generally well-tolerated. It is safe for short-term use, but it can cause nausea and abdominal pain.
Gotu kola or Centellaasiatica has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to safely treat anxiety in children. It’spotential mode of action involves the regulation of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPA axis) in during stress related disorders.
This is only a brief insight into treating anxiety in children safely by using an Integrative Medicine. However, it is essential to note that these therapeutic interventions must always be tailored to the individual.