The most significant difference between traditional and holistic treatments for teen mental health is that with a traditional approach, medication is usually a way to treat the problem. Holistically, however, doctors are there to address the underlying cause and the root of the mental health issue.
Taking a holistic approach to teen mental health is helpful since it allows you to work with a more “try and see what works” option for treatment. You can find what methods of healing are unsuccessful and work to find a way to help your body and mind heal that are more open and sometimes far more effective than traditional medicine.
In exploring the way to try a holistic approach to teen mental health, you address every factor involved with the problem and cater to individual needs. Using treatment as an entire person rather than symptoms helps to focus on finding a way to break what is stemming the cause of mental health problems.
Causes of Mental Health Problems in Teens
There are numerous rising issues and incidences of mental health problems among teens. Many of the root causes and underlying issues stem from:
- Substance Abuse
- High parental expectations
- Performance pressure
- Peer relationships
- Conflict within families
Teens have trouble expressing themselves and usually don’t know how to reach out for help. Parents must keep a watchful eye on their children and observe any behaviors such as withdrawal, phobias, sleep problems, and more that may be a cause for concern. Teenagers have also been known to be susceptible to developing behavioral addictions such as video game addiction that can have a negative impact on their mental health. Luckily many of the holistic approaches to treatment help in overcoming video game addiction.
Types of Holistic Approaches to Teen Mental Health
Experimental methods help give teens options in ways to process. They can address trauma and pain through courses of action, by doing something, feeling, and expressing themselves, rather than just thinking and talking. These therapies are more potent for adolescents because they impact the brain and nervous system, areas that are still growing and changing.
Some types of holistic approaches that involve more doing than talking include:
- Expressive arts (painting, performing)
- Martial Arts
- Equine Therapy
- Adventure Therapy
These types of approaches require teens to interact within their environment in a safe and therapeutic setting. Understanding what habits, behaviors, and patterns are creating mental blockage or issues is more manageable. Then, it is much easier to resolve by applying new, healthy patterns and behaviors.
Other types of therapies that drive a more holistic approach to mental health that teens can find beneficial are:
- Guided Imagery
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Herbal Therapy
The experts who help treat teen mental health at Rahav Wellness Functional Medicine note that many of these therapies allow for more advanced holistic methods to work directly on the nervous system. They aim and have been shown to release tension, detoxify, provide stress relief and support an emotional balance for teens’ overall well-being.
Benefits of a Holistic Approach For Teens
Traditional medicine treats signs and symptoms, usually with medication. Drugs, however, tend to come with a laundry list of side effects. Many times, if they aren’t the best medicine to treat the mental issue, they can sometimes even exacerbate or make the problem worsen. They can become dangerous, risk addiction and depression, and possibly be fatal.
Holistic practitioners believe intense emotions and traumatic experiences are found throughout the body. So, the only way to truly heal and transform mental behaviors is through body-based interventions and methods that dig deep into those emotions.
For example, yoga is a way to help teens connect to their bodies on a physical, mental, and spiritual path. In addition, research proves that practicing yoga stimulates the vagus nerve, which is critical for optimal physiological functioning. It also provides tools to help teens self-regulate by developing a mind-body connection and allowing them to recognize and change habitual responses to stimuli that may be triggering mental illness.
Improving Mood, Creating Emotional Balance
Many holistic methods of treatment are also helpful in changing teen moods. In particular, any of the approaches that coerce exercise are beneficial. Regular exercise has long been studied and proven a way to combat mental health. Endorphins are released and aid in improving natural immunity, enhancing moods and reducing pain.
Exercise can even help with relapse. One study discovered that just thirty minutes of exercise three times each week is just as effective as drug therapy in treating depression. In addition, very few patients utilizing the exercise method experienced depression, whereas those treated with medication only had a higher percentage of relapse.
Meditation is another excellent example to help create a better sense of well-being and connect to oneself. Meditation helps to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression by calming the nervous system and regulating emotions.
You increase empathy, concentration, and attention and help put your mind at ease. “Wandering mind” is a phrase associated with unhappiness. Harvard Medical School research demonstrates how meditation works to combat this by decreasing the volume of the amygdala, which is responsible for anxiety, stress, and fear.
Teens’ capacity for resilience and self-understanding is expanded with the use of meditation. The spiritual aspect of it creates a connection with your body and mind, and these tools can be big supporters in overcoming depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse.
Other Factors of a Holistic Approach
The problem with teen mental health isn’t always treated by exercise, nature, or internal self-awareness. Sometimes, practitioners may advise that teens look at other factors within their lifestyle, such as:
- Nutritional deficiency
- Digital device usage
- Image issues
Changes in diet and nutrition can affect teen mental health by providing them with the right foods to help balance mood and enhance metabolism. In addition, acknowledging too much screen time can allow the teen to shift focus to something more productive, such as finding a new hobby that brings joy.
Mental Health Management in Teens
Adopting a holistic approach to managing mental health in teens proves more beneficial than traditional or more therapy-based methods. Treating the individual by taking into account multiple factors beyond symptoms such as physical health, habits, lifestyle, environment, and other social factors helps identify triggers and, therefore, can be treated more effectively.
Teens need to work to take care of their mental health and find methods that treat those issues because, over time, they can become more challenging to fix. Implementing more holistic techniques for teen mental health will be vital to ensure that mental health disorders cease and don’t come back.