Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Thoughts on treating anxiety

In our quest to get Iris the help she needs, Matt and I recently took Iris to visit a psychiatrist. At the end of the appointment, based on everything we talked about and our history with Iris, he recommended that we put her on anti-anxiety medication. In fact, that was pretty much his only recommendation. I am not sure why I expected anything else, he was a doctor after all. I half hoped he would have a diagnosis for Iris that we had never considered and would usher us towards the perfect treatment that we had never considered.

As you can probably imagine, it was extremely frustrating, to be sitting in the office being told that our seven year old needed medication. I took a few days to think about it and I did a little research and talked to people I know who had experience with the issues we were facing. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I actually got some pretty positive feedback about children who were put on these meds. All of them had good results. Some saw some pretty extreme changes for the better, even.

Yesterday I met with Iris's therapist and faced more frustration: we mutually decided to discontinue therapy because, well, it really isn't working. I had honestly hoped the therapist would have many more tricks up her sleeves. She didn't. Or maybe she could have pointed us in the direction of another kind of therapy. She had one suggestion, but it didn't feel right to me based on Iris's issues.

While I want a fix for Iris, and a "quick fix" would be fantastic!, I just can't find it in me to agree (at least at this time) that medication is the right answer for her. Luckily Matt is on the same page as I am, though I think we both feel that if the other felt strongly in persuing medications, we would probably try it. But neither of us do.

It feels like there have to be so many things that we have yet to explore. Since I don't have any great professional guidance, it falls in my lap to look for the help Iris needs.

Today as I started my research on treating anxiety I kept coming back to dietary changes. A diet free of processed foods, food coloring, artificial flavors, caffeine, sugar, etc etc is the very best thing for promoting a healthy body and mind in any child, but especially one who is struggling with disorders such as anxiety. I also came across information on Omega 3 fatty acids, which has been shown to be effective in helping to treat anxiety. Omega 3's are essential to brain development and Dr. Sears has written an easy-to-understand article about it that you can read HERE.

Seeing as how I have a degree in nutrition this should be easy peasy to implement some changes in Iris's diet in order to see how it affects her anxiety and behavior, right? Unfortunately Iris's eating is yet another source of contention in our house. I wouldn't say her diet is awful, but it isn't great. It isn't what I know is right for her. I want to do better, but it turns out my degree means diddly squat to my daughter. If I put food on her plate she doesn't want to eat, she won't. It's that easy. Any kind of struggle over food issues raises her anxiety, so I want as much as possible to avoid it. I take responsibility for letting crappy foods slip in her to diet, it was so easy to not take a firm stand in allowing her to eat junk. And little by little she has decided that she no longer likes pretty much any of the fruits and vegetables I serve her, including things she may have liked just last week.

So where I am going with this is, I want to change her diet and I want to add in some supplements, but I don't have a clue how to do it or where to start. Seems like it's time to start a whole knew line of research!


  1. Have you heard of NAET? Honestly it seems like voodoo to me, but I had a friend who took her daughter to a practitioner and in 3 sessions her daughter went from having complete freakouts multiple times a day, to being a nice normal kid. It was the mother's last resort. Just thought I'd put that out there.

  2. Thank you for the suggestion. I hadn't heard of NAET (which is surprising considering going to school at and working for Bastyr University!) but it looks intriguing. I will ask our ND about it and see if she has any thoughts.

  3. I don't know if y'all already do or not, but grassfed meats/eggs are VERY high in Omega 3's. If you're not already using them, you could switch it out for the regular and I bet no one would notice the difference.

    Will she not eat yummy gummy vitamins? I know she probably won't let you overhaul her entire diet, but remind yourself that something is better than nothing and babysteps are good. GraceAnne gives me hell at dinner, too. I'm going to guess not as much as you have to deal with. HUGS! I know this is so frustrating. You're doing a great job!

  4. For supplements I would suggest either a naturopath or a Chinese medicine doctor. In fact, my mom swears by Chinese medicine for stuff that Western medicine is still baffled about.

    Since I was a kid with huge anxiety issues I feel for Iris, but I've read too many reports of anti-anxiety medicine being dangerous for children as young as she is. If you change your mind and think you want to try it, personally, I would suggest get at least three other opinions first.


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