Updated: Jun 27, 2022
Depression tripled in the early months of the pandemic among adults in the United States - and it has continued to grow ever since, jumping from 8.5% in 2019 to a staggering 32.8% by the end of 2021. A very similar and unfortunate trend has been seen among kids as well: depression and anxiety levels doubled since the beginning of the pandemic and the number of suspected suicide attempts among girls went up by 51%. To make things worse, this increase in mental health issues has coincided with severe disruptions to mental health services due to the pandemic, leaving huge gaps in care for those who need it the most. With the rise in depression, we have also seen a rise in the consumption of drugs to try to manage it.
I am not here to question the use of drugs to treat depression. However, as a holistic educational psychologist, I like to encourage people to try drug-free treatments as an initial step - specially for treating depression or anxiety in kids. As we all know, drugs can cause addiction and are usually tied to a number of additional side effects which make the situation even more complicated. And the reality is that there are several cases where alternative treatments can work wonders with no side effects whatsoever.
A great drug-free alternative to alleviate anxiety, stress, insomnia, depression, and many other big emotions is Tapping. It has become a favorite of mine, and everyone in my family has been using it for years with great results.
Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), was first introduced in the 1990s by combining elements of mind-body medicine and acupressure techniques applied to key points. The underlying principle of Tapping is that all emotions and thoughts are forms of energy that have real physical manifestations that affect all functions of the body. Tapping focuses on the body’s “energy system'', helping the practitioner call out what he/she is feeling while allowing energy to get “unstuck”. And what is better: a Tapping session can be done in about 5 minutes.
Explaining how to do Tapping is probably going to make it sound much more complex than it is - but I will give it a try anyways. You start by choosing the big emotion you want to address (stress, depression, anxiety, overwhelm, anger, etc.), and doing a simple self-assessment to gauge the intensity of the emotion (for example, you could ask yourself, “in a scale from 1-10, how stressed am I right now?”) You take 2-3 deep, calming breaths to ground yourself. Then the main gist is that you have to tap repeatedly into 9 points in sequence while saying out loud a reminder phrase (ideally, you would do each series of 9 points 3 times). Then you repeat the self-assessment question.
For your reference, the 9 points are outlined below. Start with the karate chop point, and then follow the right side, top down.
While this technique may sound a bit exoteric, I can guarantee that it is not; rather, it is a very powerful mindful technique with amazingly quick results. If you want to learn more about this technique, you can follow me on Instagram @karla_globallybrighter (I will be hosting a Tapping workshop pretty soon). I am sure this will become one of your favorite techniques for managing your big emotions and the big emotions of your kids.