Parenting

Natural Remedies for Depression in Children

The sky is cloudy. Sun is nowhere to be seen. Your feet seem leaden. Getting up from bed is a herculean task. Don’t feel like eating or drinking. The normal bubbly self is withdrawn, unable to find pleasure in anything.

Welcome to the world of depression.

Depression is one of the leading debilitating diseases in children and adolescents. The current go-to treatments for depression, namely medication and therapy, are not 100% effective. Are there natural remedies for depression?

1. Exposure to sunlight

According to research, exposure to sunlight can significantly lower the risk of depression among children. A study at the University of Bristol found that children with the lowest levels of vitamin D were the least likely to have symptoms of depression. Sunlight gives vitamin D. Furthermore, exposure to sunlight early in the morning sets your circadian rhythm right, and this helps with good sleep at night. This also helps to lower the risk of depression.

2. Healthy diet

A 2017 study found that volunteers who followed a more healthful diet for 12 weeks had lower risk of depression. In the case of children, this is very relevant because often children are not the ones making dietary decisions. Hence if the caregivers provide the right kind of food, children can be helped in a way that lowers depression risk. What kind of diet is optimal? Avoid processed food completely. Let them eat fresh and whole foods high in nutrients such as selenium, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, Magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, antioxidants and probiotics.

3. Weight management

The relationship between obesity and depression is complex. Often, children who are overweight are bullied in school, and their self-esteem is poor. They just don’t feel good about themselves. This can contribute to depression. Obese children are usually inactive and sedentary. The lack of exercise exacerbates the risk of depression. So, improving their self-image by means of controlling weight is absolutely essential to lower the risk of depression.

4. Regular exercise

Children are usually active. But this cannot be said about the children living in the modern technologically advanced age. They are usually inside the house looking at their mobile phones or playing video games. This can exacerbate the risks of depression. Regular exercise, which means exercising every day, is a potent antidote to depression and this has been well-established in the scientific community. Exercise boosts positive moods. Regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins. Endorphins are natural brain chemicals which improve your sense of well-being. Exercise also takes your mind off worries and overthinking. Furthermore, exercise makes you feel confident about yourself since it helps you get in shape.

5. Outdoor play

One of the most potent ways of warding off depression in children is to let them play outdoors with friends. Social interaction is a sure-fire way to reduce any kind of mental health problems in people of any age, but in children the effects are dramatic. Children learn to be resilient when they do adventurous activities like jumping or climbing in a safe environment. When they interact with other children, they learn problem solving, communication skills and spatial awareness. All of these contribute to their self-esteem which indirectly contributes to lower depression risk. They learn coping mechanisms. All this dramatically reduces the risks of depression.

6. Support them in studies

Children who do badly in school, getting lower grades, may develop lower self-image and self-esteem. These are risk factors for depression. So, support your child in academics. Arrange for tuitions if he or she is weak in certain subjects. It is very important that a child does well in English (or the language that is predominantly used in communication and in academics) and Mathematics, because these are the foundational subjects that will help a child learn any other subject.

7. Listen to them

Children will inevitably face stress in school or at any other place they frequent. Listen to their problems and help them deal with their anxieties. Sometimes, their problems may sound very silly or not worth listening to. But remember that for a child, it is a very big problem. Help them solve these problems. Support them when they go through a stressful situation, such as getting low grades in an exam. Reassure them that no matter what they do, you will be there for them.

8. Get a pet to cuddle

Finally, having an animal to stroke, hug or pet will definitely make a difference in the life of your child. Cuddling a loving animal can rapidly soothe or calm a child when he is anxious. The companionship of an animal decreases loneliness. Also, if your child’s pet is a dog, it is a great stimulus for physical activity because dogs need to be taken out for walking. Such activities substantially improve mood and ease depression symptoms.

Related reading: Warning signs of Teen Depression – Dealing with it

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