Growing up is tough. Especially for kids struggling with anxiety and depression. Natural Mental Health Remedies for kids help heal the root cause.
- learning new things
- making friends
- preparing for the future
… and all the chaos that comes with being a kid, children go through a ton of growing pains. Especially today – in the age of TV, video games, and social media.
Did you know it’s estimated that 1 in every 7 kids experiences mental health disorders? (1) That’s about 166 million children.
As a naturopathic pediatrician, I see patients regularly who experience heart palpitations, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, angry outbursts, and other irregular behaviors. It’s common, but it is not normal or okay. We as parents have the opportunity to change the statistics and our children’s lives.
What we feed, teach, and prescribe to our children impacts their mental health – and from experience, I believe proper nutrition, coping mechanisms, and natural medicine are the best methods to support them.
Today we’re gonna focus on medicine. I’m going to share 5 powerful natural mental health remedies you can use to help reduce depression and anxiety and support your child’s mental health.
Why Choose a Natural Approach for Treating Mental Health?
Oftentimes, a child showing signs of anxiety or depression is first prescribed harsh medication to “fix” the problem.
While I’m a strong believer that there’s a time and place for mainstream medicine – seriously, it saved my daughter’s life – I don’t think this should be the first method of treatment.
First, medications are a band-aid. They don’t address what’s going on in the body to cause these symptoms or work to create lasting change. It’s also often tough to come off of these medications because the body becomes dependent on them.
Note: If your family chooses to go this route, I recommend asking your doctor about the long-term game plan for your child’s health. What’s the protocol for eventually getting them off medication?
Second, a lot of prescription medications – like antidepressants – have dangerous side effects. These side effects can actually worsen the problem they set out to solve. (2)
When administered by a naturopathic doctor, or a trained professional, natural medicine is safer and often times more effective for treating mental health disorders in kids than conventional medications.
Again, I believe conventional medicine can be extremely effective and needed in certain cases. I’m all about informed consent. Do your research and speak to multiple doctors to make the best decision for your child’s health.
Herbal Remedies to Support Mental Health
Herbal medicine is a non-toxic, gentle, and yet powerful method of healing. I see it work its magic in my practice every day, and it’s been used in Chinese culture for thousands of years!
Best Natural Mental Health Remedies for kids to reduce anxiety & support your child’s mental health:
How beautiful is it that a flower can be used as medicine to help your child feel better?!
Passionflower is used to calm the mind and nervous system. It does this by releasing a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA, which lowers activity in the brain, making you feel more relaxed. (3)
Use passionflower if your child…
- has racing thoughts that keep them up at night.
- is having heart palpitations or panic attacks.
Passionflower is milder than other herbs and is safe to administer in small doses. *Best used for kids ages 10+
- Lemon Balm
You can grow lemon balm right in your home garden! It has a calming effect that’s been shown to reduce stress, boost your mood, and improve your attention. (4)
Use lemon balm when your child…
- can’t fall asleep.
- is overly stressed about something.
- has digestive complaints that stem from nervousness or anxiety.
Lemon balm has been deemed safe for kids! Depending on your kiddo’s age and preference, you can give them a tablet, drops from a tincture, or use the fresh or dried herb to make tea. *Best used for kids ages 5+
- Valerian Root
This herb is most frequently used as a natural sleep aid and is quite effective. (5) Getting quality sleep each night is one of the greatest ways to support attention span and a positive mood.
In my practice, patients with anxiety symptoms often aren’t getting adequate sleep, and valerian root can help. It’s also proven to help hyperactive kids settle down. (6)
Use valerian root if your child…
- is anxious and can’t settle down at night.
- is hyperactive and can’t focus.
You can administer valerian through a liquid tincture or powder. *Best for kids ages 5+
I know you’re familiar with this one. You probably already put this in your child’s detox baths or your own!
Lavender is a popular herb used for relaxation because it calms the nervous system (7). It’s also one of the gentlest (and safest) essential oils for kids.
Use lavender if your child…
- has trouble relaxing.
- is feeling anxious or stressed.
I recommend putting an essential oil diffuser in your child’s room, placing a few drops in a warm bath, or using the herb to make tea. *Safe for babies and kids of all ages
Use chamomile if your child…
- is restless due to anxiety.
- gets headaches due to stress.
- has indigestion or an upset tummy due to stress.
I recommend making your child a cup of chamomile tea before bed, or when they’re feeling anxious. For babies and young kiddos, just be sure the tea isn’t too hot. *Safe for babies and kids of all ages
Consult with your trusted naturopathic pediatrician before administering herbs to your child. Remember that not all natural mental health remedies are a good fit. Like most remedies, dosage and oversight are important.
Natural Mental Health: Other Ways to Support Your Kids
In addition to natural mental health remedies, learning coping skills and getting the right nutrients that support the brain are crucial to overcoming mental health disorders.
When I work 1:1 with patients, we dig deep by developing a personalized treatment plan that includes lab testing, coping techniques, meal plans, and more.
You can find a lot more information on this – tips to support your child, essential vitamins, and supplements – here.
Get Your Child the Help They Need
Kids go through a lot. We’ve all been there – remember?
But some go through a harder time than others. If your kiddo is struggling and you want to discuss natural options for healing, I’m here to help.
I’m thrilled to announce that The Organic Cure just rolled out memberships! This means I get to offer more hands-on, ongoing support to patients who need it.
Check out my memberships page to learn more about what’s included and how to get started. You’re not alone, mama.