Emotional, Behavioral and Mood Symptoms

Children are increasingly being prescribed pharmaceutical medication to help them deal with emotional and behavioral problems as well as mood symptoms.

What Types of Emotional, Behavioral and Mood Symptoms Are Commonly Seen in Our Kids?

  • Depression: May be exhibited as anger with mood swings
  • Unable to adapt to stressful situations
  • Excessive rigidity
  • Excessive anxiety, panic
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors: Persistent thoughts, impulses, behaviors
  • Rage
  • Excessive anger
  • Moodiness
  • Negativism
  • Defiance
  • Non-compliance
  • Disobedient
  • Hostile behavior
  • Oppositional behavior
  • Intense fear
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty falling asleep

Common Diagnoses of Mood, Emotional and Behavioral Problems

Here are some of the more common diagnoses:

  • OCD
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
  • Aggressiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Schizophrenia

What Your Doctor May Tell You About Mood, Emotional and Behavioral Problems

Your doctor will most likely suggest therapy and counseling at school and/or private therapy and counseling depending on the severity of the situation. She might also suggest removing any triggers that might be causing behavioral issues in your child or, if there are marital problems between you and your spouse, to seek counseling to improve family relations and circumstances. Many doctors may also recommend psychoactive pharmaceutical medications.

Another Way of Thinking about Mood, Emotional and Behavioral Problems

There are many stressors in a child’s life today, and they could be physical, emotional, educational, environmental, or biological. It is most likely a perfect storm of these varied stressors that ultimately contribute to a child’s mood and behavioral symptoms. Many times doctors offer cognitive or psychiatric therapy or even pharmaceutical solutions without first looking to see what might be the root cause, which is often physiological, of the symptoms.

For example, the relationship between food and mood/behaviors is often overlooked. Similarly, inadequate sleep can impact mood and behavior. Researchers are beginning to uncover the important role that immune dysregulation and gastrointestinal disorders may play in the role of mood disorders such as biopolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia and others.

Like autism, mood disorders have long been understood as “brain-based,” often genetically-determined disorders best managed by psychiatrists. In reality, these mental health diagnoses are really just symptoms of larger systemic medical problems, usually involving some element of gut dysbiosis, immune dysregulation, or mitochondrial dysfunction. Many of these biological problems stem from certain environmental exposures.

While psychiatrists may certainly be helpful in managing these disorders, they are not necessarily trained to look for the root cause of their patient’s medical issues. What’s more, many of the pharmaceuticals prescribed to manage these conditions may actually make the conditions worse in the long run.

A physician or healthcare provider trained in integrative or functional medicine may be able to find underlying medical issues and suggest medical protocols that will help heal these underlying systemic problems.

    Mood, Emotional and Behavioral Problems Healing Checklist

    Before resorting to medications or behavior modification therapies, consider the following:

    Make Lifestyle Changes

    • Get 10 hours of sleep per night (or more if your child is under 10)
    • Get outside every day
    • Get an hour of exercise or movement per day
    • Sync circadian rhythm by getting up when the sun does and going to bed after it sets
    • Limit screen time as much as possible
    • Use blue-blocking lightbulbs and glasses at night, especially when looking at screens
    • Put bare feet in wet ground when possible
    • Drink half body weight in ounces of water

    Eat a Clean Diet

    Use Only High-Quality Fats

    • Coconut oil
    • Olive oil (unheated)
    • Avocados
    • Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil
    • Grass-fed ghee
    • Duck fat
    • Grass-fed beef tallow
    • Cod liver oil (unheated)
    • Walnut oil (unheated)

    Remove Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

    • Canola
    • Corn
    • Soy
    • Safflower
    • Sunflower
    • Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Crisco, etc.)
    • Margarine

    Include High-Quality Protein with Every Meal

    • Pasture-raised eggs, chicken and other fowl
    • Grass-fed beef, lamb and other red meats
    • Wild-caught fish
    • Legumes
    • Nuts

    Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics

    These will keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.

    • Eat kefir yogurts, if dairy is tolerated
    • Eat fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi
    • Eat umeboshi plums, which are very alkalizing
    • Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
    • Take a quality probiotic, such as VSL #3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, Klaire Labs. Work with your practitioner for a more targeted probiotic.

    Optimize Blood Sugar

    Blood sugar that is too high can lead to excess inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

    Blood sugar that is too low can lead to attention and behavioral problems.

    We recommend keeping blood sugar optimized so that it's neither too low nor too high.

    Do an Elimination Diet

    Children with chronic health conditions often have hidden food sensitivities and intolerances that exacerbate their symptoms. With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:

    • Casein
    • Gluten
    • Soy
    • Corn
    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Shellfish
    • Nuts
    • Peanuts

    Clean up Your Environment

    • Identify and remove possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
    • Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
    • Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
    • Remove carpets
    • Use non-toxic cleaners
    • Use non-toxic building materials

    Lower Stress Levels

    Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens become more active when the body is in a state of stress.

    By teaching your child ways to self-regulate with practices such as prayer, reiki, meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), they can become good advocates for themselves and become active participants in the recovery process.

    Practitioners of techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining) and jin shin jyutsu can lower stress levels for your child, as well.

    See a NAET or BioSET Practitioner

    Children with chronic health conditions typically also have food allergies and/or food sensitivities and intolerances.

    NAET (Namudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) and BioSET are two non-invasive methods of allergy elimination.

    See a Homeopath, Naturopath or Homotoxicologist

    These practitioners can diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.

    Ask Your Practitioner to Run Some Laboratory Tests

    • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for possible food sensitivities and allergies
    • Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D
    • NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs for malabsorption, gut dysbiosis, cellular energy, mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, toxin exposure and detoxification need
    • Organic Acid Test (OAT) for yeast overgrowth, other microbial infections and oxalates
    • Inflammation markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
    • Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels
    • Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

    Use Digestive Aids with your Practitioner's Guidance

    • Betaine hydrochloric acid
    • Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
    • Proteolytic enzymes
    • BiCarb
    • Bromelain
    • Papaya

    Use Supplements with Your Practitioner's Guidance

    Always work with your practitioner to determine the brand, type and dosage of supplements. Common supplements include the following:

    • Cod liver oil
    • Probiotics
    • Vitamin D3
    • Methylated B complex vitamins
    • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
    • Magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine and other minerals
    • Others

    Help Your Child Detoxify

    • Make sure your child is pooping every day. Learn more about how to clear up constipation and diarrhea.
    • Have your child exercise or move every day. Sweating carries toxins out of the body.
    • See a homotoxicologist, naturopath or homeopath for drainage remedies and detoxification aids.
    • Optimize blood sugar to allow the liver to spend more time detoxing rather than processing sugar.
    • Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children.
    • Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
    • Epsom salt baths add sulfur transdermally to help with detox.

    See a Chiropractor

    A chiropractor can perform spinal cord adjustments, which can improve bodily functions.

    Work with a Health Coach

    Our Epidemic Answers health coaches are trained to understand the root causes of your child's chronic health condition.

    They provide hands-on helping with the practical matters of healing such as cooking healthy foods, removing toxins from the household and helping you work more efficiently with your practitioner.

    See an Acupuncturist

    Acupuncture can help lower stress and anxiety. It can also help with blood-sugar and hormonal regulation.

    Learn more about Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) could be contributing to anxiety, especially if your child snores or is a mouth breather.

    Have primitive reflexes checked:

    People with anxiety often have retained reflexes, especially the Moro reflex, which leads to being in a state of constant fight or flight.

      Test for:

      Attend to issues of:

      • Bullying
      • Safety
      • Overcrowding
      • Too much computer usage
      • Not enough movement/exercise/outdoor sports activity
      • Inappropriate curriculum
      • Too much noise
      • Trauma
      • Fears
      • Family issues
      • Unrealistic expectations
      • Low self-esteem
      • Lack of successes
      • Too much failure
      • Other experiences that may be impacting your child’s emotional well-being

      Still Looking for Answers?

      Visit the Epidemic Answers Practitioner Directory to find a practitioner near you.

      Join us inside our online membership community for parents, Healing Together, where you’ll find even more healing resources, expert guidance, and a community to support you every step of your child’s healing journey.

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