The Teenage Mental Health Crisis: Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Stress Management

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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 20 percent of teens in the United States between the ages of 12 and 17 had a major depressive episode in 2023.

There are a number of factors contributing to the teen mental health crisis. One of the most commonly discussed causes is exposure to social media and excessive screen time. However, according to Kim Furtado, ND, who specializes in women's and children's health, when treating teens for anxiety, taking away their phones may not always be the answer.

Instead of focusing on phone use, Dr. Furtado believes in building a connection with the patient first and addressing their more immediate health concerns to build rapport. She emphasized that the phone can often fill a void for teenagers, providing a sense of connection and distraction. Dr. Furtado's approach includes understanding what the patient enjoys and helping them develop a positive relationship with their body and health, which often results in the patient naturally lowering their phone usage.

Relaxation Techniques

When addressing anxiety, Dr. Furtado said it’s important to establish some calming activities that are easy and enjoyable for patients. In addition to their preexisting hobbies like dancing or painting, some of her go-to relaxation techniques include:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Dr. Furtado emphasizes the importance of deep breathing exercises to help calm the mind and body. By focusing on slow, deliberate breaths, patients can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Meditation: According to Dr. Furtado, meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety. She suggests using apps like the Down Dog app, which offers simple meditation practices that are accessible and not specifically geared toward teens, ensuring they do not feel patronized.
  • Nature Walks: Taking walks in nature without any technology or conversation is another technique Dr. Furtado promotes. This helps clear the mind and engage with the environment, providing a break from stress and a chance to reconnect with oneself.
  • Epsom Salt Baths: Dr. Furtado also advocates for the use of Epsom salt baths to relax muscles and reduce stress. The magnesium in Epsom salts can also help soothe the body and promote a sense of well-being.
  • Yoga: She also recommends engaging in yoga practice as it combines physical movement with mindfulness and deep breathing, helping to reduce anxiety and improve overall mental health.
  • Foot Massage: Dr. Furtado suggests that her patients give themselves a foot massage before bed to help relax muscles and prepare for sleep. She said this simple act of self-care can be a soothing ritual that promotes relaxation.
  • Guided Imagery: Guided imagery tapes designed for teens, such as those from Health Journeys, can also be helpful, Dr. Furtado explained. These tapes can help guide the patient through calming visualizations and meditative practices.


In addition to relaxation techniques, Dr. Furtado will suggest certain supplements to help with anxiety management. Some supplements she commonly recommends to teenagers include:

  1. GABA Chewables: These are low-dose chewable tablets (100-125 mg) that can be taken three times a day, with an additional dose during times of increased stress. GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a neurotransmitter that helps calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
  2. High-Quality Greens Powder: A non-toxic greens powder to increase antioxidant intake.
  3. Magnesium: Particularly magnesium-threonate, which is beneficial for anxiety and nerve function. It can also be taken in other forms if budget is an issue, and it helps with anxiety, sleep, and overall nerve health.

Additionally, Dr. Furtado usually runs blood tests to identify any deficiencies, including checking levels of vitamin D and screening for anemia.


For teenagers struggling with anxiety, Dr. Furtado suggests several dietary modifications. She recommends incorporating vegetables into existing meals, such as adding prepped vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and carrots to ramen and broccoli to boxed mac and cheese.

 For breakfast, she suggests an immune support breakfast consisting of a muesli mix with raw nuts, seeds, chia, ground flax, and oats, which can be prepared as overnight oats by soaking in water, milk, or milk alternatives and adding fresh or frozen fruits like blueberries.

If patients aren’t hungry in the morning, Dr. Furtado recommends starting the day with a protein shake or smoothie and encourages them to eat regularly and avoid long periods without food, which can negatively affect mood and energy levels.

To avoid overwhelming the patient, she encourages working with foods they already enjoy and gradually introducing new recipes. By making small, manageable changes to their diet, the patient can more easily integrate healthier options into their routine and improve their overall well-being.