Mood disorders include major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder. As recently as just a couple of decades ago, experts believed that these occurred only in adults, but now we know that children, teens and young adults can be afflicted as well.
In fact, researchers and other experts in the field of mental illness are seeing a rise in the number of teens who struggle with mood disorders. Recent research suggests that as many as 18 percent of teens have had at least one episode of a mood disorder. With such a significant percentage of teens vulnerable to these mental illnesses, awareness and education about identifying, diagnosing and treating them have become crucial.
If your teen is struggling with depression, dysthymic disorder, or bipolar disorder, you may feel helpless at times. Professional treatment is very important. This means getting a diagnosis from a specialist and a plan for treatment, which may include cognitive behavioral therapy as well as medication. However, there are also things that you can do to complement the treatment your teen gets from her doctor.
These complementary therapies are becoming an increasingly important aspect of mental health care and they show great promise. Speak with your teen’s doctor about the possibilities and have a discussion before you try any type of complementary care.
How Diet Can Effect The Mood
While a good diet cannot cure mental illness, eating well and being physically healthy can help. There has even been research showing that an improved diet with certain important elements can help reduce the severity of some symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. One such important nutrient is omega-3 fatty acid. This is an essential fatty acid and a nutrient that most Americans do not consume in a great enough quantity. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain function, which may explain the connection between eating them and good mental health. Your teen can increase her intake with supplements, or with foods like salmon, mackerel, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Using Exercise To Boost Mood
Exercise, like diet, is not a cure-all for mood disorders, but it certainly cannot hurt. Getting exercise every day may even help to lessen the severity of some of your teen’s symptoms. The physical activity promotes the release of chemicals that boost mood, but there are other reasons it helps. Getting outside, and interacting with others can also help to improve your teen’s mood. Being in the sun stimulates the production of vitamin D, which promotes good moods.
Utilizing Alternative Medicine And Traditional Medicine
The term “alternative medicine” might suggest that it can be used instead of traditional medicine. However, the best way for your teen to heal is to stick with her traditional therapy and to try alternative therapies to complement it. Your teen’s doctor can recommend practitioners and help you decide which types might be best to try. Alternative therapies that may help include meditation, yoga and acupuncture.
Meditation is generally a good way for anyone to reduce stress. If an expert can help your teen learn to meditate, she may be able to reduce stress and improve her mood.
Yoga is similar to meditation, but involves more movement. It is a great way to reduce stress, increase flexibility and strength and to uplift mood. You will definitely want an expert to help your teen learn to do yoga. Consider taking a class together — this can help both of you cope with your teen’s mood disorder. Yoga has been shown in research to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
Acupuncture, which is a part of the ancient Chinese medical tradition, involves inserting small needles into the skin in various places. The idea is that disorders are caused by disruptions in a person’s energy or life force, and that the needles, placed strategically, restore the correct balance. The physical action produced by acupuncture isn’t well understood, but much research has been conducted to see the effect of the treatment on various disorders. There is some evidence that it can reduce the symptoms of mood disorders. As long as you can find a reputable practitioner, there is no harm in trying this alternative treatment.
Coping with a mood disorder is not easy, especially during the teenage years. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child be healthy and whole. The most important thing you can do is to provide treatment through a medical professional, but supplementing medical treatment with alternative and complementary therapies may improve her condition significantly.
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