From Anxiety to Adventure:
When Fletcher first came to see us at The Wellness Collective he was struggling in a major way with anxiety. He’d always feel on edge and unsafe and this was causing him to miss out on a lot of fun and exciting activities that kids his age should be able to enjoy carefree. His mum described it as “overwhelming, irrational fear” that would consume him at random times and he’d be unable to recalibrate, self soothe and calm back down.
Unfortunately, stories like this are becoming all too common in our children and it’s heartbreaking to see your child so paralyzed by anxiety and unable to live their life fully.
But why are kids suffering with anxiety so much? Where is this all coming from and more importantly, is there a way to support our kids naturally and without the need for things like anti-anxiety medications?
The Cause of Anxiety:
Feeling anxious is a normal and beneficial physiological response our body has in response to perceived threat or danger. It results in an increase of heart rate & blood pressure, heightened sensory perception, increased alertness, and focus. This allows us to navigate new, unfamiliar, and uncertain situations successfully. This is all controlled and coordinated by our Sympathetic nervous system AKA the fight or flight mode. We refer to this as the Gas pedal.
This mode and these responses are totally normal and serve a vital role in our survival and normal life. The problem arises when this response becomes chronic and ‘stuck’ on. Our Gas pedal is usually only intended for short periods of use in the right situations. A key thing we understand about our brains and central nervous system, however, is that it is sensitized and reinforced through repetition. In the same way that practicing an instrument or sport improves our proficiency at that activity, repeated stress can ‘hardwire’ our nervous system into a state of fight or flight. As pediatric chiropractors we call this phenomenon Subluxation – simply stated, stress stuck on.
When our gas pedal is active, this suppressed the other side of our central nervous system, the Parasympathetic nervous system AKA the rest & digest mode – the Brake pedal. With an imbalance between these two modes (dysautonomia), it leaves us feeling on edge all the time, like something is going to go wrong, and when pushed even further by external events/stressors can turn into the crippling anxiety and panic attacks like what Fletcher was struggling with.
Kids today, are bombarded with stress from all different angles. From increased screen time and technology use, constant fear through news & current events, the typical social challenges of school, busy schedules and most importantly birth trauma & maternal stress. All these together create a ‘Perfect Storm’ within the nervous system resulting in more fear and anxiety in our kids.
Measuring Anxiety in the Nervous System:
The good news about all this is that there is hope! And it starts by measuring what is going on within the brain and central nervous system. At The Wellness Collective one of our most critical tests for anxiety is our EMG scan. Which measures exactly how much stress is affecting the central nervous system and causing anxiety. This is quantified using the ‘energy index’ shown below on Fletchers scans. The energy index ideally should be 140-160 for children, but on his scans, we could see his nervous system running at 268. This is the equivalent of your car idling at 9 revs when at a stop sign. His nervous system was stuck on the gas pedal, perceiving normal life experiences as life threatening situations.
But with the perfect, customised chiropractic care plan on his team we were able to calm his nervous system back down to a normal level which allowed him to be at ease and enjoy his life. I’ll never forget asking Fletcher as his initial consult if he could do jumps or loved riding fast on his motorbike and him immediately shutting that down. Even thinking about it seemed to get him overwhelmed. And now at his weekly wellness adjustments all we’re talking about is the races he’s doing and how he’s the one hitting the biggest jumps of all his friends! Things both he and his mum didn’t think were possible before starting care.
If this sounds like your child and you’d like their ‘anxiety test’ run to see how wound up their nervous system is, simply click HERE and one of our team will reach out and get you scheduled. If you’d like to learn more then head to our next workshop where we dive deeper into the nervous system and what’s causing these challenges. Click HERE to reserve your spot!
Dr Ben Edwards