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MindCheck is the Weekly Wednesday Kids Mental Health series with Dr. Ray Pataracchia N.D.  MindCheck provides in depth information on the orthomolecular approach to coping with mood and/or behavior disorders.  The MindCheck Health Series is endorsed by the Mindful Network – ‘A Better Future for Children’s Mental Health’.

The key to a stress-free calendar holiday is to leave it blank and take advantage of down time.





Time Off Should Be Stress-Free


Children and teens struggling with depression, anxiety, ADD, OCD, ODD, bipolar, or psychosis may need to adjust their way of doing things during calendar holiday time.  Calendar holiday time can be stressful for these kids but this blog describes how mental health can benefit during holiday down time. These kids may need to avoid specific pit falls and take advantage of time off to de-stress and spend time with family.  As discussed in the previous blog on Recovering in the Family Unit, the family unit can provide a strong support system for kids.


Stress symptoms vary depending on our circumstances and how well we manage stress; during the holidays, many symptom changes can occur — headaches, indigestion, insomnia, depression, anxiety, weight changes, menstrual changes, etcetera.






Stress-Free Lifestyle


Stress can be addressed in various manners from exercise to yoga to anti-stress nutrient balancing and several other healthy lifestyle approaches that are de-stressing.


Increasing Play Time


Children’s free play time has declined since the 50’s.  This is a shame as kids need to be kids and even adults’ benefit from down time.  The solution is to take advantage of down time, give yourself permission to have fun and do what you enjoy.  Parents that have the ‘all work and no play’ all-year-round attitude often have kids that are more depressed and anxious.  Use your holiday time wisely, put work aside and give your kids the one-on-one time that they need to bond and develop socially.


Coping Through Calendar Holiday Time


If you or your kids feel stressed during calendar holiday time, you may want to read what the Mayo clinic has posted as a means of alleviating holiday stress.  During calendar holiday time, some of us may have imposed/unrealistic demands placed on us; the Mayo Clinic provides some Universal Practical Holiday Tips that you may find helpful.


Stress, Suicide Rates, and Holidays


The stress dynamics of calendar holiday events (Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, or Easter) influence the emotional and psychological state and are therefore implicated as triggers for relapse in those at risk for or struggling with their mental health.


That being said, if we look at suicide rates as an indicator of stress during peak winter holiday time, research studies actually reveal that December has the lowest suicide rate and only a slight spike in suicides occur after the winter holiday (“post-holiday lows”).  Suicide rates actually peak in the spring– when metabolic changes may be set off by lower vitamin D levels (more below).


Non-Drug Biochemical Support during the Winter


The winter holidays may be worse for some if there vitamin D (sunshine vitamin) levels are already low and they experience stresses that trigger behavior changes.


Growing kids and teens with fast metabolisms in particular, have a greater demand on calcium and vitamin D.  When you see kids and teens that have greater mental health distress in the winter months, it may be due to the lack of vitamin D at this time of year, a time of year when in the Northern Hemisphere we get so little skin exposure to sunlight that it compromises endogenous vitamin D formation.  Vitamin D allows calcium absorption and utilization in the body.


Other Biochemical Support Possibilities


Although vitamin D and calcium can be important, the full array of nutrient imbalances that are involved in mental health are numerous; see our blog on typical nutrient imbalances associated with the mental health of kids, teens, and adults.  Parents should be encouraged that non-drug treatments that are targeted to address these mental health nutrient imbalances can help.


We can implement the right anti-stress nutrients by getting a medical professional to help us assess and treat imbalances that are individual to our needs.  Stress-related mineral deficiencies influence our mental functioning.  Nutrient deficiency assessment and treatment is exemplified in a targeted treatment approach that has a strong orthomolecular (clinical nutrition that looks to find the right nutrients for you) foundation.


Two main tiers of medical paradigms exist; one is drug treatment and the other is non-drug treatment.  With respect to mental disorders, drug treatment offers potential for synthetic palliation of brain cell functioning while the other offers potential for endogenous correction of brain cell functioning.  There are various forms of non-drug treatment but orthomolecular non-drug treatment approaches work hard to take what you have biochemically and make it better; they look to achieve that which is a new and improved you versus a new and synthetic you.