Anxiety and Meltdowns… How to help?

In many countries around the world, now is exam time… there is pressure, anxiety, fear and exhaustion – and quite often, therefore, many meltdowns!
You may even have seen some of my social media posts on remedies that may help with exam stress 🙂

But it doesn’t just have to be exams!

Meltdowns are a form of exaggerated expression, of emotional overload and sensory dysregulation, whereby the body just can’t take anymore.

They can also be a form of immune response… where the body goes into a fight or flight mode from the utter fear of their life, even though that may not actually be the case.

Those suffering with neurological conditions such as Autism, ADHD, PANs, PANDAs are particularly likely to suffer on a regular basis where the levels of anxiety and oversensitivity are often more extreme.

Those suffering with grief, trauma and shock may also experience meltdowns when the emotional pain is just too much. If not worked with, this pain may be residual and pop up at any point during the victim’s life.

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We are learning more and more about anxiety and trauma and how they play out. In the education system and work place, these needs are trying to be accommodated more and more as neurodiversity is recognised and understood.

During my career as a nursery nurse and now as a homeopath, I have worked with many children (and some adults too), where meltdowns have very much been part of the regular picture – and I understand the hard work involved in getting to grips in the best way to manage each and every one.

All this is exhausting! …and identifying this aspect alone is key in being able to work through a meltdown and support effectively at these times.

It must be noted too, that it is often the case that many people in many environments are treading on eggshells, worried about accidentally tripping someone into an outburst. 

Feeling confident in how to deal with meltdowns is therefore very important in itself and the more we appreciate the triggers and pain that are being experienced, the more we can feel empowered to know how best to support.

Deep rooted anxiety can so often be part of the picture and to take a pause and try and understand what might be ‘behind’ the meltdown is very helpful.

For those that are suffering and struggling with the overload and overwhelm; they may be ‘masking’; trying their hardest to hold it all together without being able to identify and ask for support in time… but this can only be managed for so long.

Here is a lovely video, put together by Milton Keynes Autism Group, which I think is so helpful in gaining better understanding of the build up to a meltdown:

There is increasing awareness of the rise in children and adults with emotional dysregulation and I feel bold enough to say that I feel parenting has never been harder!

There are some wonderful remedies to support, but the issue can be taking them ‘in the moment’ as this can often feel quite impossible!

The beauty of Homeopathic remedies is that there are no side effects, they are non-addictive and they do not dull the mind and natural spirit of the individual which sadly can be the case with conventional medication. 

The remedies listed below are just a few I would like to suggest, and usually a consultation is advised to be able to get enough detail of the symptoms and the whole picture of the individual, in order to prescribe the best remedy options.

If you have any questions or need some specific help then please do get in touch.

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Chamomilla – where there is anger and pain, red hot face but only one red cheek. Pain may be particularly around the face and jaw. There is oppositional behaviour; one minute to be held or closely comforted, the next to be away from others.

Passiflora – this is typically used where there is over-excitement and it all ends in tears. I love it for events like Christmas eve or before an exciting event.

Belladonna – for rage where there is staring from the eyes, enlarged pupils and a hot and sticky body. There is often head pain or throbbing. This is a well known remedy for brain inflammation.

Arsenicum Album – anxiety is high, there is a brewing underlying fear of health, hygiene and loss of order/control in the environment around them.

Nux Vomica – There is rage and violence as if in a toxic state. Worse from eating unhealthy food and drink and using stimulants as a coping mechanism. Digestion is affected too, often constipation and general gut discomfort.

Kali phos – this can be taken in homeopathic remedy but also in Tissue Salt form where it is known as the ‘coping’ salt! It can keep tension down when there are stressful times imminent or present. It is also a good recovery remedy as soon as the sufferer is ready to take it. It particularly works with the brain.

Tuberculinum – this remedy is particularly relevant where there is a lot of hitting and throwing… including hurting themselves, head banging. Tiredness is often a common theme in the lead up to a meltdown/tantrum. Masking is often part of this picture where once home or out of the school environment, they cannot hold themselves together any more. 

Stramonium – like Belladonna, the eyes will be fearful and wide open. There will be the fear of death and also the dark, with need for company. There is brain inflammation often in this picture too.

The flower essences Australian Bushflower Emergency essence and Bach Flower Rescue remedy can also be helpful… not only for the individual suffering but for those around supporting them!

Having a remedy in water in a spray bottle or dropper bottle is sometimes helpful when there can be enough closeness to dispense. Remedies can be taken in many ways other than just a pillule in the mouth! Rubbing a drop into the skin can be very helpful too.

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Knowledge is power, and I hope these key tips are useful to consider when supporting meltdowns:

  1. Give space: this gives you a chance to consider what might be ‘behind’ the melt down and also ease the pressure of the person struggling with whatever may be going on for them.
  2. Communicate calmly and reassuringly, but with clarity and least dominance. Gentle questions of what the person needs and how you can help. Usually less words are better.
  3. Encourage finding a quiet and private area and remain close enough where appropriate to assess safety of the situation. Offer sips of water and assess if there is enough ventilation or warmth.
  4. Find out what may comfort the individual best; familiar items, toys, people, music. 
  5. Give reassurance that all will be well, and encourage deep calm breathing, counting in and out gently if accepted.
  6. Acknowledge the change in tension and severity as the individual shows signs of calming down. Reassure positively and regularly where appropriate.
  7. Encourage rest – a LOT of energy will have been used up and a comfortable place of rest is important.
  8. Once the meltdown has ended, not immediately, but within a few hours or days, it is often helpful to allow a gentle discussion with the individual on how it was for them, what helped and what didn’t help, and what the triggers may have been. Writing about it, or drawing a picture/sketch, or discussing it through some creative activity, can be a more relaxed and therefore fruitful approach. Reflection can be a great learning opportunity for both supporter and individual to start to build a toolbox of strategies that can then gradually help during future meltdowns.

My love about homeopathy is that during treatment, we usually see the picture of meltdowns happening in a lesser strength and fewer and further apart and this brings relief to all 🙂

I hope this has been helpful. Please do feel free to forward it to anyone you may feel is struggling and this may bring understanding, ideas and support.

I can’t believe we are in May already… I always welcome this month as it is a birthday celebration for me!

May this month bring enough warmth, cheer and calm to all!

Ali x

Hello 2022: Welcoming in the New Year... 2Ali Lomax

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