Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge on How to Develop Resilience in Kids

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com. That’s Wellnesse with an E on the end. And this episode goes deep on things like PANS and PANDAS, which I’ve gotten a lot of questions about and don’t have any first-hand experience with but wanted to provide a good resource for anyone who is in the process of dealing with those specific conditions. And I’m here with Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, who is the founder of the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health. And Forbes has called her a thought leader in children’s mental health. She’s worked with thousands of families, specifically those with Lyme disease, PANS/PANDAS, and any other type of condition. And she’s the author of the book, “It’s Gonna Be Okay!” and the Get Unstuck Program.

And I thought she was a great expert to have on. We really go deep on these conditions, why we’re seeing a rise in mental health issues in kids, the factors that have changed so much in the last couple of decades that are affecting our kids. We go deep on both the physiological and the mental health factors that are involved, and why we’re seeing a rise in a lot of these conditions, why so many kids are getting misdiagnosed, and what you can do as a parent to both help your child avoid these conditions and also what to do if they already have them. It’s a really fascinating episode. She’s so much fun, so well-spoken. And without further ado, let’s join her. Dr. Roseann, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Dr. Roseann: Well, I’m so excited to reach all these mamas out there and supporting not just kids’ mental health but family mental health in a time where we need it more than ever.

Katie: Well, and certainly, any mom knows kids’ mental health directly impacts the whole family’s mental health very drastically. And I’d say it’s probably no secret that we’re seeing a rise in mental health issues in all demographics but including children, which is where I think I get the most sad when I see little ones struggling through some of these things. And I know I’ve seen a lot of articles that over the past year this has really intensified. I know there’s a lot of factors, part of it probably kids being separated from school environments, and from their normal social interactions, and from activities and from time outside in some cases, but I know it’s also can go deeper than that as well. So, can you walk us through why we’re seeing such a rise in children’s mental health issues, specifically in the past year or so?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, it’s such a great question because we are seeing a rise in kids’ mental health long before the pandemic happened, which is why in January of 2020, I started the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health because in these 30 years, Katie, I’ve just seen such an increase in things like anxiety, depression, autism has just gone through the roof, and things like PANS and PANDAS, which were virtually non-existent when I started 30 years ago. And so, you know, why is this happening? It is definitely a multifaceted issue. We know what’s happening right now. We can dive into that. But let’s dial it back. Let’s talk about all these factors that have made it where some kids are really struggling during the pandemic despite having great homes or none of those risk factors, like, you know, issues with their parents being highly stressed or economic issues that have affected them during the pandemic.

You know, kids are struggling more today. And some of that is because environmental changes, like academics, being way more intense, schools being sometimes developmentally inappropriate for kids, for example, writing, the demands on kids writing when they’re physically not as capable have dramatically increased in the last 15 years. And that’s really stressful on kids. But we also have poor food quality. We have an increase in genetic mutations. We have a decrease in physical exercise. And how about downtime? Kids don’t really have downtime in the same way. So this has all, sort of, led to this rise. And on top of it, our parenting styles have changed. We are not parenting our kids in a very autonomous way, so kids can really develop this resilience and grit, and learn coping skills, which only come from those little moments of failure, that teach kids how to tolerate disappointment, uncomfortableness, all those emotions. And kids need to learn those skills independently because when big stuff happens, like you get into a huge fight with your best friend or your boyfriend, or you are failing a class in college, that you have an internal resilience to handle those situations with stride because stress happens.

And then right now, why are kids having such a stressful experience? You know, if they walked in, Katie, to the pandemic, with a pre-existing mental health issue or a family history of stressful experiences, they’re gonna be more likely to experience stress. But what we know through research, survey research in the United States, Asia, and as well as Europe is that there is a real increase in anxiety and depression for kids. And one startling statistic is that 50% of teenagers and young adults who have an immediate family member with COVID have a risk of moderate to severe depression, which is shocking. So kids have a loss of connection. There’s fear around the virus. There’s the virus itself, and just the Wild West educationally, the disruption in education and parents being really stressed and overwhelmed has all contributed to what is going on with kids, this uptick in mental health issues.

Katie: That makes sense and it seems like a lot of factors to address. I’m right there with you on, kind of, the changes in parenting styles. I got some good lessons from my grandma before she passed away about how much different that is now. And that’s always been my focus with mine is to try to raise them to be as autonomous and self-sufficient as possible as early as possible while, of course, giving them the tools to do that in a mature and helpful way. I have a motto with them that I won’t do anything for them that they’re capable of doing themselves. So even the little ones start their own laundry pretty early and are very involved around the house.

And also, we really try to curate time for them to be bored and to play outside, and not to just have constant structure so they can learn some of those skills. I know I’m a big fan of anytime kids are playing, there will always be the inevitable little spats or disputes or figuring out the rules of the game. And I’m such a fan of letting them work through that whenever possible because like you said, they learn from those interactions and from those little failures, and that translates to later in life. And there’s a lot of directions to go from here. But before we move on, why do you think we’re seeing such a change in that parenting style that seems to have happened within the span of one generation?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, well, we’ve shifted our focus to academics. And we’re using academics as a benchmark for mental health. And a lot of parents believe that, “Wow, if we get our kids to focus on getting those straight As that life’s gonna be better for them. Life’s gonna be easier for them.” And it’s not the case because people with mental health issues, kids and adults, are functional. They walk around. They’re interacting. Some areas are going great in their life, maybe it is in academics, and other areas aren’t. And so, we are not…Now I think what is happening, Katie, in this pandemic, is we’re changing. We’re realizing, “Wait a second, my kids didn’t have an ability to manage stress or they don’t know how to do their laundry.” I mean, what sage advice your grandma gave you, right? Do things on your own and make mistakes because you’re 100% right, it’s those little moments that become the learning lesson.

And so, we’ve shifted away from social-emotional development. We talk a lot about it. But I don’t think parents really understand that it comes from being autonomous. And we have this fear-driven society that if our kids don’t have straight As, they will amount to nothing. And this comes out of the mouths of teenagers, and college kids, and middle school kids. They say the same thing that their parents are. And so we’ve shifted our focus to something that’s really not gonna build lifelong happiness. And the core to that is this resilience and it comes from stress tolerance.

Katie: Yeah, that makes sense. And that’s probably its own topic for a different day. But that’s a world I want to take on, as well as the at least, like, post-secondary education world and the ways that it’s not serving kids for the future that they’re set up for. And a big reason why I homeschool is to be able to give my kids a better foundation in that sense. But I think it’s also important to highlight you mentioned there are some definite physiological components of what’s going on as well. I’ve talked about on this podcast before that we are seeing a huge increase in environmental toxins, like, more than any other generation. Like you said, we’re seeing an increase in genetic mutations, which is an interesting, really important topic to delve into itself. We know that our food supply isn’t as nutrient-dense as it once was. As moms, we’re kind of fighting a battle sometimes on many fronts, but let’s talk about some of these physiological factors that come into play as well and what we can do about them.

Dr. Roseann: Yeah. So, you know, I talk a lot about this in my book, “It’s Gonna Be Okay!” I delve into a lot of these root causes about what’s happening. And so, genetic mutation is something that people, you know, may have heard about, but have no understanding of its connection to a child’s physical and mental health. And what has been happening in this time that we’ve changed in a generation is we’ve just had a dramatic increase in these mutations, and one in particular called MTHFR. There are others. And I go really deeply into them in my book, “It’s Gonna Be Okay!,” is changing how our kids are utilizing essential vitamins, particularly the B vitamins, and our nervous system can’t regulate properly, nor can it detoxify properly. And both of those factors are going to impact our brain health and nervous system. And so it is definitely a root cause as to why we’re seeing so much increase in things like it’s correlated with ADHD, and anxiety, and depression. It’s also correlated into a specialty that I have people with chronic physical diseases that lead to mental health issues. So things like PANS and PANDAS, Lyme disease, and different types of infection and toxic triggers that can lead to PANS/PANDAS or autoimmune encephalopathy.

And so, these are some sources that kids are really struggling both in the physical and the mental health side. And we can’t escape the connection between the brain and body. We talk a lot about it in mental health, right? We should always be talking about mind, body, and spirit but we are not teaching families about what they can do to change things on that cellular level with diet, exercise, hacks in nutrients, right? So taking specific supplements and beyond. There’s a lot of things parents can do to directly impact their child’s mental health right now, but also for future generations, which is shocking to parents when they hear about that, you know, very intelligent people know food is important but they don’t know why. They don’t know how it reduces inflammation. Oh, it addresses, you know, looking at at a deeper level, what are allergy responses and how do these nutrients actually power up very specific types of areas in the brain?

Katie: And I’m glad you brought up PANS and PANDAS because I am getting an increasing number of questions about these, which tells me that they’re probably on the rise. And it’s an area I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience. But I’m hearing from a lot of moms who either have kids who they know have a diagnosis or worry that their kids might have this and are having trouble getting a diagnosis. And it seems like there’s a lot of complexity to this. And there can be a lot of factors that come into play and a lot of symptoms. So, to start broad and then we’ll dial in, give us an overview of what PANS and PANDAS are. What does that stand for and what’s going on in the body?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah. So thank you for bringing this up because PANS, PANDAS and autoimmune encephalopathy are three separate disorders that have the same source. And the symptoms largely are the same. And they’re all dramatically on the rise. The research says that about 150 out of 200 kids have one of these disorders, and it can have quite a dramatic impact on our mental health. So let’s talk about what they are, let’s talk about the symptoms, and then let’s talk about what people can do about it. So, first of all, I’m a leader in this area. I have a book that I co-wrote called “Brain Under Attack.” I talk a lot about PANS and PANDAS in all of my work and in my book, “It’s Gonna Be Okay!” And, you know, it’s very hard to find people who can help you anywhere in the world.

So, PANS and PANDAS and autoimmune encephalopathy, what happens is there’s an infectious or toxic trigger that causes a misdirected immune response, the body starts attacking itself. There is an inflammatory response. Of course, it impacts, in this case, the brain. There can be other physical components of it, like joint pain, and it can impact anywhere in the body. But with PANS and PANDAS, it is a sudden onset or a deep acceleration of a pre-existing issue. And I really like to highlight that because my people, all my lovely mamas out there who are listening, many of my kids have pre-existing conditions. And they also have a shopping cart full of diagnoses, like ODD, ADD, OCD, depression, anxiety, you name it, learning disabilities. And there can be a real worsening, right? So PANDAS is from strep. PANS can be any infection and toxic. And then autoimmune encephalopathy, which, you know, takes a long time to be able to pronounce that, we’re gonna call it AE. AE is a slower waxing and waning onset. It does not have to be dramatic overnight. And I like to also highlight that because these kids get missed.

Most of the kids that I work with, they are PANS kids. There’s, you know, one toxic trigger or one infection, once it starts, other things like to come to the party. And so this immune system breaks down. And you might have moles in there. You know, you might have, you know, scarlet fever, a history of scarlet fever, mycoplasma pneumonia, tick-borne disease. Tick-borne disease is one of the biggest triggers. It is not the only trigger but it is that and strep and mycoplasma pneumonia and mono, Epstein-Barr. I would say those are the four biggest triggers. And then there’s a huge list of different things. So what will parents see? Okay?

So PANDAS, obviously, it’s a strep infection but here’s what you can see behaviorally in all three. So you can see obsessive-compulsive disorder. You can see anxiety, depression, you can see physical or motor tics, and then any other mental health condition you possibly can think of as well as a lot of rage for some people. So you can have externalizing behaviors, like rage, violence, you know, wanting to harm other people. And then on the other end, you can have internalizers, kids that are so depressed that can’t get out of bed. And when it’s a sudden onset, when it’s a deep acceleration, parents will do things like tell me, Katie, it felt like it was a demonic possession. Like, it was so extreme, they didn’t know what the heck was going on.

So, then you also can have such extreme cases where parents will know the exact day, the date it happened. Like, it was February 12th, 2019. When you see that you know is one day and there was no precipitating event…And when I think about kids, I think about grief and loss. You know, I think there was a loss of a grandparent or a dog or a bullying incident or something like that. You need to be considering PANS and PANDAS because our immune systems are breaking down due to some of these things we talked about, genetic mutation, poor food quality, chronic, chronic stress on kids. And chronic stress doesn’t mean you don’t have a beautiful home and a beautiful street and your kids go to a beautiful school. It means our nervous systems are in a hyper-stress modality. And when that happens, our resources in our body go to find the stressor and ignore antigens like Lyme disease, or any tick-borne illness, or whatever it is.

So then you can have aggressive behaviors, Katie. So you can be a kid who is like a great student in literally stopped reading. I see this all the time, loss of handwriting. And then two other behaviors are very common. One is frequent urination and separation anxiety. And so when you have a sudden onset or worsening of a pre-existing condition that seems so out of the ordinary, I’m gonna tell you this is not normal. Do not believe that the first line that if something is really extreme that your child is psychotic for no reason that maybe they have, you know…These kids are diagnosed with things like schizophrenia, bipolar. And you wanna always look for medical sources.

And if this sounds like your own child or maybe your niece or nephew or, you know, your friend Betty down the street, have a listen to this podcast. I mean, this is why we do this because these kids are all over the world and they are in psychiatric hospitals. And they go from hospital to hospital and they’re not getting appropriate medical treatment, and they’re being missed. And this is criminal because we should be testing kids for these common sources of mental health issues. If it’s 1 in 150, 200 kids, that’s common.

Katie: Yeah. Oh, so much to unpack there. So I agree. Is there, like, a clinical set of tests that help us identify this, or is it symptom-based, or how do parents get to that diagnosis? Because I can only think back to my own when I used to have Hashimoto’s, which is autoimmune. It took me so long to finally get a diagnosis, to find a doctor who knew to test for the right things because if it was like if you only tested T3 and T4, I was fine. And when you test antibodies, I was off the charts. And so I wonder, are the kids getting missed in the testing or there are not as good set standards for testing protocols, or as a parent, if you suspect this, like, what should a parent be advocating for?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, so much to unpack even in that. So, number one, the number one problem why these kids are not getting identified is the lack of practitioner knowledge about what PANS and PANDAS are. And that is pediatricians. That is psychiatrists. That is people running psychiatric hospitals. That is therapists because as soon as they are medically missed, boom, they go to psychotherapists. And so that is the number one reason why, people. And that’s why you need to find somebody…if this sounds like your kid, you need to find a practitioner like myself or you go to aspire.care, which is a national organization, or Epidemic Answers and they have, you know, practitioners in that area.

So, is there a test? There is. This is a clinical diagnosis based on symptoms. So is Lyme disease, which is often shocking to people. So we have tests. Like, in PANS and PANDAS, one particular set of tests is called a Cunningham Panel. And some people believe that you have to have positive inflammation markers. You know, all these things have to be there. I’m gonna tell you absolutely not. That is not what the clinical criteria says. And some of these infectious diseases, particularly Tick-Borne disease, they can take years to show up on lab work. And so if we hang our hat on getting a positive test result, these infections get deeper in the organs. They get more intrusive and it becomes tougher to treat, not impossible. And tick-borne illness, in as little as two weeks, can go from early-stage, which is pretty easy to treat with antimicrobials, to late-stage. And late-stage means that these bacteria, the spirochetes, have burrowed into some organ. And once they burrow in because they have a screw-in mechanism, these are highly genetically evolved bacteria, some believe the most highly genetically evolved bacteria on the planet, it’s tough.

And that’s, you know, part of…So this Lyme community and PANS and PANDAS, they need to merge together because let me tell you, the PANS and PANDAS mom, they are tough mamas and they are really moving the dial faster and getting help for their kids than just the, you know, Lyme community in itself. So, no single test. Testing is helpful because we need to know what the infections are in the treatment triangle. You know, you wanna have treatment for the infection, treatment for the inflammation, and then behavioral mental health treatment. That’s a treatment triangle to really get our kids better.

Katie: And that was gonna be my next question because it seems like since this is a pretty complex thing that we have going on in the body and there can be a lot of different triggers. I’m guessing it’s also very rarely a single trigger. Like, it seems like often the body’s capable of handling any one assault pretty well. And there’s been a lot of whether it’s the rain bucket, or the bathtub, or all the different analogies about all the different inputs that can go in, but once you reach the top, it’s gonna overflow, no matter what you put in it. And I use that analogy with autoimmune disease. It sounds like that applies here, too. So it seems like there’s an element of having to really, kind of, unpack all those layers and figure out the triggers, and then also figure out from there, like…So is this a very individualized treatment plan where with each child, you’re working to figure out it might look different for everyone, or are there commonalities?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, it isn’t…I mean, you know, Katie, that whether it’s autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s or, you know, PANS and PANDAS, or whatever it is, there’s an individual component. But this is the basis of my work, that no matter who I work with, whether it’s autism or PANS and PANDAS, I know what holds them back. And it’s typically two things that hold them back from actually healing their body and reducing and reversing these mental health symptoms. And it is a hyper-stress-activated nervous system. So people are so surprised that our autonomic nervous system, which is in charge of managing everyday stress, that these kids, it’s gonna be stuck on. I’ve never met a kid with autism or ADHD or anxiety that doesn’t have a stress hyperactive nervous system.

And as I mentioned earlier, your troops go to the unknown. What does that mean, your troops? It means your immune system, your hormone system, every single component of your body which helps it to regulate and work literally goes to that one thing. So, your car that you’re driving, all of your wheels are gonna be balanced on one wheel. It’s gonna be working. It’s not gonna be working well. And every time you get in that car, you’re like, “Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong.” And then you get your tires balanced and that’s with that nervous system. So, how I work with people is I teach them to regulate the nervous system. And I do it with a lot of biofeedback, neurofeedback, and PMF. That’s my magic juju. I believe in a lot of other things, breathwork, and all that, and I lay it out in my book.

But the other part of this is improper detoxification. It is very rare that I have kids and adults who their body is able to detoxify both the actual toxin, infectious, you know, bacteria agent and whatnot, but also their waste products. So, you know, we have mycotoxins that are in our system and you say, you know, people are listening, “What do you mean detoxification? How do I do this?” Well, a lot of it is lifestyle. And these tend to be the two biggest barriers for people that are even getting amazing treatment because I work with people who are going to these amazing professionals and treating kids with PANS and Lyme disease in adults, and they’re not getting better. And it’s because of the stress hyperactive nervous system. It’s a physiological response. It’s called psychoneuroimmunology. Your body literally will not let you heal when you are in a stress-activated state.

So it’s super important, you have to take…It’s a multifactorial issue, which means there’s no one thing that’s gonna work. It’s adjustments in your lifestyle. And as horrible as PANS and PANDAS is, and I have been working with people with Lyme disease long before my 16-year-old got it at 22 months, who we later learned had PANS…So I live in an area where infectious disease triggers for mental health are standard. They are just here. We’re living in, you know, suburbs of New York, in Connecticut, and people get Lyme disease. If I walked outside right now, Katie, and I stood on the grass, within 10 minutes, I would have ticks crawling on my legs. So, it’s that scary. You can’t see Katie, but she looks scared. You know, and it’s there. And, you know, for us nature lovers with our kids, like, we need to connect, right? So I’ve had to do a lot of preventative things.

But, you know, people just don’t understand what PANS and PANDAS look like. So, you know, it can show up overnight, and very sudden and very scary. You know, when my kid got Lyme, he stopped eating. And you know what his doctor said? His doctor said, “Well, he’s 22 months old. That’s what 22-month-olds do.” And I said, “Not Italian kids.” You know, he was eating, like, calamari for breakfast and, you know, he was eating these really amazing foods that we…you know, I’ve only been holistic my whole life. So, we didn’t eat processed foods. My kid has never eaten off of a kid’s menu, okay? And so when they told me that, I was like, my mama gut said, “Uh-uh, no, no, no, no lady.” And I knew it was something else. But, of course, that’s what it was. But it can be a sudden onset or it can be this sort of waxing and waning and up and down and then parents start going, “What’s going on here?” And that’s why they wind up getting diagnoses like, you know, ADHD or other things because it can show up in so many different ways.

Katie: I think another important point in all this is that tick-borne illness is also very much on the rise. I think a lot of people don’t even realize there’s the connection here. But also, tick-borne illness can go in a lot of different directions. And I’ve heard from a lot of adults who have had Lyme disease or various co-infections that came after Lyme disease. So, I’m curious if you have, a little bit of a side note, but any preventative tips for that? Because we ended up actually moving to an area that’s very low in ticks because I really don’t like ticks, and I’ve seen friends and what happens to them with severe Lyme, but any preventative tips because many people do live in tick borne areas.

Dr. Roseann: Yeah. Yeah. I have lots of preventative ticks, Katie…tick tips. And this is the whole other podcast and we’re filming this in May of 2021. And May is Lyme Disease Month. It’s also Mental Health Month, and how appropriate is that? So first of all, Lyme disease is on every continent except Antarctica. Okay? So, there are high infection rates, they’re called endemic areas. There’s 14 states in the United States that have it. And so, we all think it’s only in the woods. And as my scary story told you, this is not true. So, please know that rodents carry this as much as deers, if not more. So rodents are everywhere. In my shishi-poopoo neighborhood, we’ve gotten rodents in our house because my cats are sleeping on the job. You know, it can happen at any time. So, let’s talk about prevention.

So there is actually one thing, Katie, that you can do that will reduce your chance of Lyme disease by 59%. And it’s not what you think. It’s not the sprays, which are important. It is taking a shower immediately after being outside. And when I mean immediately being outside, it is anytime you’re outside. You’re in the lawn. You’ve gone to the beach. There was just this huge article that came out last week about how every beach they can find, in the tall grass, is filled with ticks. So, take a peek the next time and take a look in there because you’re gonna be shocked. So, taking a shower immediately. This is the best protocol that I have found that has always worked with my kids and even when my kids were babies is we enter through the garage to find an entry point, have a clear bin that can fit your clothes, make your kids strip down, put their clothes in the bin before they enter the house and have them take a shower. And always use a washcloth and have them get every surface of their body.

Please know that a tick check is not enough. People will tell me, “I do tick checks.” These are little tiny, tiny, tiny, you know, nymphs. You’re not gonna see them. So that’s really important. Spray is really important. Whether you believe in natural spray or DEET-based spray, that’s okay. They’re effective. Do not spray them together at the same time. Essential oils act as a carrier of the brain. So if you’re using essential oils-based sprays, you do not want DEET-based sprays. You wanna pick one or the and you can use things like permethrin, which treats your clothing. You know, my feeling as somebody who’s gone through this horrendous 14-year journey with my own kid with Lyme, and having access to the top experts in the world is that I’d rather see you detox out toxins and really create a real protocol around that than have to deal with Lyme. So choose something.

And then clear cut and fence in an area of your yard if possible. Ticks do not like light. They, you know, won’t cross over things like mulch. So you could do a mulch border. As Hilaria Baldwin told me, it’s a mulch moat. So when they cross over mulch, they will die in the heat over that. It’s really, really important for the sun to keep your grass short. You know, if you are using, you know, outside, you know, have a dedicated area that can be essentially as tick-free as possible. And you can spray your lawn. You know, oil of oregano is a great spray. But just assume you’re gonna have ticks.

And then the spring and the fall are the worst times. The spring is when they’re most aggressive. And then also just know that you do not have to have an engorged tick for it to transmit tick-borne illness. The moment a tick bites you, it empties the contents of its stomach into you. And so, you know, the rates of these ticks carrying tick-borne infection are very, very high. The research is anywhere from our area, it found 91% of ticks carried at least one tick-borne illness, as low as 30%. But you have a very high risk that tick transmitting, you know, to you. So prevention, prevention, prevention is key.

Katie: That’s a really great tip. I had never heard that about not using natural sprays and DEET sprays together, but it makes complete sense. It’s like, pick your poison and stick with that one.

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And that’s really amazing how high…I didn’t realize tick-borne illness was that high and the percentage of ticks all over. It’s good to know, there are some tangible things that we can do. And it also sounds like you have firsthand experience with your own child with this, which gives me hope because you mentioned he, I believe, is older now. So how has recovery been? I think, like, having hope is also such an important thing for a parent who’s facing something like this.

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, having hope is so important. You know, in my book, “It’s Gonna Be Okay!,” I talk about the eight pillars of mental health. And yes, this is a book designed for parents to improve their kids’ mental health, but it’s really about all mental health for everybody. And I call them the eight pillars of hope and healing. And we are so scared in this world and we don’t believe in the efficacy of natural treatments. We don’t believe that our kids can get better. And we believe, maybe not our wellness mamas, right, because you’re here and you’re exploring, right, which is amazing. Like, keep listening, keep listening. But the more we understand, right…

So for 30 years, Katie, I’ve been pushing the limits of mental health. And really, only been using these evidence-based approaches, which, hello, are 100% natural, right? Like, somehow food has been relegated into an alternative medicine. It’s just so comical, it’s not even funny. I could start a brawl in the mental health community on a Facebook group by recommending a certain diet for anxiety or depression. So, you know, I want people to have hope and healing. Yeah, my son is dramatically better. At 16, he’s the best mental health he’s ever had. Has that been a hard road? It has been a hard road because as we’ve moved through this, we have learned more about what works and what doesn’t with PANS and PANDAS and tick-borne illness and other things.

And, again, I’ve only been holistic. So this wasn’t even me changing my lifestyle. It was really dialing down those pieces, which is why so many people seek me out and work with me virtually in our center because there are ways to treat things. And the platform…So is there a bio-individual approach? Yes. But the 8 pillars of mental health are 100% the same for everybody. And, you know, I put in 40 pages of single-spaced research citations so people can have trust.

And the number one thing parents need to do is to see their kids getting better. The moment they don’t wanna jump off that worry train and they keep those psychiatric meds in the back of their head or other things…right, because we know kids with PANS and PANDAS and Lyme disease, the research 2021 says that these kids have poor reactions, high symptoms reactions. I knew that because I could see these kids having paradoxical reactions. Why did they react to psychiatric meds? It’s not the root cause. The root cause is an infection or a toxin. So let’s address that component. But I always want people to have hope, whether it’s autism or PANS and PANDAS and Lyme disease.

You absolutely…I have the privilege of helping thousands of people reduce and reverse mental health symptoms over all these years. And, you know, you’ve gotta understand it’s gonna take work, but it’s shifting your work which isn’t working for you, which feels like you’re beating your head against the wall or going down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, and shifting it to lifestyle changes and other therapies that are actually gonna create change. And that belief is where it starts. You’ve got to believe in it because when you don’t, you let that negativity, sort of, creep in.

Katie: Yeah, and I think the other really important point to highlight there is that for the best outcomes of the work you’re doing, like, mental health is not just a therapy mental health issue at all. And the best outcomes in any aspect of health seem to come when we use an integrative approach that takes all of these things into account. And I’ve seen those kind of things as well, people pushing back in the medical community on diet being that important or anything beyond calories being important. And I think it’s a huge disservice to people who are suffering because even if they don’t…maybe you have faith in that kind of approach. It’s not going to harm someone to eat a more nutrient-dense diet or to dial in supplements that might be helpful.

So to me, in the best interest of the patient, especially when we’re talking about our kids, you wanna use every potential tool that you have available and, kind of, use this multifaceted approach. And it’s exciting to know that there are tangible things that parents can do because I think you’re right, like, that hope and that mindset is such a big key toward healing. And our kids need to be able to feel that from us because we’re gonna be the ones, kind of, emotionally driving that process. And I think this applies to all kids, not even just kids with PANS and PANDAS. And I know you have something called the CHAMP technique, I believe, from what I’ve heard of you?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah.

Katie: We’re gonna talk about that because I think some of these things, like mental health is something we want for all of our kids. You know, we want them to all have a positive mindset and a good foundation in mental health. So, what are some of those factors that you talked about that are applicable across the board when it comes to this?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, I mean, I’m about raising successful kids, whether your kid has PANS or PANDAS or they might just be stressed during the pandemic, have a hard time focusing and motivation, but they don’t have ADHD. So I talk about the CHAMP technique, right? And, you know, there’s five parts of that. And so one, it’s calming your central nervous system. So nothing is gonna happen. No learning will happen with a stress-activated nervous system. This is adults too, people, right, and this is my battle cry for moms to take care of themselves. And, you know, it just takes 10 minutes a day to regulate your nervous system. You can use breathwork, meditation, biofeedback, neurofeedback. Pick something and do it, people, because you’re going to feel better all the time and you then won’t react to stress. So it’s super, super important, right?

And then two, you know, hone your kids’ skills, right? Don’t just focus on academics, right? You know, my younger guy, John Carlo, he just is a freaking delight. I mean, he’s got a great sense of humor. He is the friend to everybody. So I hone in on those skills because he’s dyslexic. So, I’m gonna focus on his reading but I’m gonna hone in on his gifts. And please start opening your ideas to gifts beyond the academic world because you want your kids successful in all areas. It’s not gonna matter if they have a straight A in algebra when they get to a job, or they try to keep a girlfriend, right? And they don’t know how to be conscientious about, you know, just thinking beyond themselves, right?

And then three, we already talked about this, it’s parenting to be autonomous. We want our kids to feel confident. You know, I love to do things like what Katie does. I start them with tasks at home. Like, my boys knew how to cook and use a stove by the time they were 5 years old. Okay? So my 10-year-old is like, “Hey, Mom, I’m gonna make a soup. You want some?” “Sure, sounds great.” Now, I know he likes it spicy. My mouth is gonna burn when he makes it but I’m gonna let him be autonomous. And then four is mastering coping skills. We want our kids…we do not want to rescue our kids every second, okay? We want them to problem solve, figure out stuff on their own, be a little uncomfortable, and figure out how to cope. That doesn’t mean throwing them in the deep end. It means like, “Here are your resources, you know, let’s talk about it.”

And then five is using positive language skills and visualization. So I talk about visualization all the time, like, oh, so we’re gonna have a pool party. When your kids are coming over, you know, from school, like, what does that look like? Well, how do you wanna see it go, you know? And I remember we used to have a pool party every Friday, Katie. And we like to have a good time at the Hodges. It’s part of the Hodge motto to have a good time, especially when you have a kid who struggles. And we actually still homeschool our older son, but we homeschooled both our kids at one point. And so, you could have a party during the week. And the kids I was talking about that week’s pool party, both my boys said, “Hey, you know what I don’t like? I see the kids taking my stuff without permission, going into my bedroom and taking all my, of course, you know, like swords and, you know, battle gear.” And I was like, “Okay, well, where do you see that stuff being moved to?” And they just start seeing things different. They don’t say, “Oh, Mom, you’re gonna do it.” They just start seeing positive results and feeling good about themselves. And that is so key.

These are the underpinnings of mental health, people. It is really developing that inner resilience. It doesn’t just happen overnight because you say to your kid, “Well, this is how you figure it out.” No. It’s those opportunities of failure, and success, where they learn how to manage whatever comes. Like what Katie said, your kids are having a WWE SmackDown, and you let them figure it out. Right? It’s important.

Katie: Yeah, I think that is really important and not problem-solving for them. I know I hear from a lot of teachers who say that parents are doing that a lot more now. And like you said, it’s because the academics are so important. But from firsthand experience, I can look back, my parents were both college professors at different times. And I definitely came from that academic background. And I learned, like, that was the most important thing and I got the straight As and I was obsessive about school to the expense of my health eventually. And the irony is, like, I was great at taking tests. It’s not a valuable life skill. Being kind to people is a very valuable life skill. Being able to clearly state your wants and needs and also listen to other people, that’s a valuable life skill. Being able to take care of yourself and take care of others, very valuable life skill.

And I think you’re right, we’ve lost some very important things with our kids in trying to empower them to be really good at academics, well-intentioned, but unintended second and third-order consequences that now we have to address. And hopefully, we are. I love that approach as well. We’re kind of the fun house as well. And I’ve always wanted to be the place where my kids could bring friends and where all the friends wanted to hang out. And now that I’ve got…I have 6 kids, the oldest is almost 15. And we are definitely that house. So on any given day, there’s maybe 20 kids in our house and I love it. But it does…And I love your approach too of helping them to visualize and helping them to figure it out. I’ve been a big fan of that since my kids were young is when they ask a question, instead of just answering, I’ll be like, “Oh, well, why do you think?” or, “How can we find the answer to that question?” Or if they’re having a problem, I’ll ask them, “Oh, what would be some solutions? How could you solve this problem?” instead of just fixing it for them.

And I think you’re right, that’s very important to give them just that perspective to start shifting. So even at a young age, they don’t say, “I need someone to fix this for me.” They start thinking, “How can I fix this?” or, “How can I work through this?” or, “How can I make this better?” And I love your approach in that and love your work in your book too. I’m gonna make sure that it’s linked in the show notes as well because I think it’s really phenomenal for all kids and all parents. I know that you also have a special offer specific to the audience today. And I wanna make sure we get to talk about that before we reach the end of our time. So walk us through what you’ve created for the listeners.

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, so I have a special thing just for the Wellness Mamas out there because I just love that you’ve created a community. You know, I was a holistic mom long before it was cool. So, I just love that everybody’s embracing this and that Katie is leading this battle cry. So, I am all about raising successful kids. So we have this amazing no-brainer $7 offer. And you can go to raising…It’s gonna be in the notes, but it’s raisingsuccessfulkidscommunity.com/dealone. And it’s a triple offer. And it’s a video with me where I teach you…It’s a masterclass on how to build resilience and grit in your kids, and then we’re gonna do a five-day challenge about how to raise successful kids, five steps to creating success in life, school, and home. And then a live Q&A at the wrap up in the next week after we have this challenge and depending on when this airs.

So, I hope people do this. This is a no-brainer. There is no kid in the world right now during this pandemic that is not impacted in some way, shape, or form. And there’s so much we can do proactively, right? So wherever you are, you’re a special needs mom like me or you have kids that you’re working this towards, this is for all kids. And I call 20 something-year-olds kids too because some kids get stuck in their 20s. And, you know, I do a lot of failure to launch work. So, I just want people to have tools that are accessible. That’s what I do. That’s why, you know, I’m on TV all the time. That’s why I’m talking about all this because parents feel, you know, unsure of what to do and I wanna help you to feel hopeful, but also really put tools in your hands that make parenting a little easier for you. And that, you know, when you make those shifts, like, I’m sure Katie sees this, I see this, all this work that I’ve done to even treat my kid who struggled with mental health due to PANS, he, at 16 when it should be harder, is actually the easiest he’s ever been.

It’s about changing what you’re doing so the investment pays off. And there is no parent…Whenever I ask them, “What do you want for a kid?” They all say, “I want my kids to be happy and healthy.” They never say, “I want a straight-A student.” You make a happy and healthy kid, there are no limits to their success. You only focus on that one thing, you are limiting their success. So, this is about creating a discussion and giving you tools. So I hope people sign up for it because I am super passionate about kids’ mental health and we can do better. And that’s what all my work is about.

Katie: I love it. I’ll make sure that link is in the show notes. For all of you guys listening while you are driving or exercising, those will all be at wellnessmama.fm. So you can find everything we’ve talked about. I’ve been taking notes as well while we’re talking. And I know that Dr. Roseann, you have a lot of resources as well. I’ll link to some of those so people can find them and keep learning. And my hope in this is that hopefully, the majority of people listening are not working with a child who has one of these conditions. But I think in light of the numbers you shared, it’s very important for us as parents to be aware that this exists and to be on the lookout for it because like you said, it can come on very rapidly. And it’s really good for all parents to have an awareness about ticks and about tick-borne illness, and about things like MTHFR, and underlying dietary triggers, and children’s mental health.

And I think of all of these things, like, hopefully, there’s great tools like you provide for parents who are dealing with the acute, but also I think we’ve talked about a lot of things that are helpful across the board for parents who maybe don’t have a child working through one of these problems but they can help all of our kids have a better shot at success in not just academics but also in relationships and in life in every area. And I love the work that you’re doing in in this world and all the parents and families that you’re reaching. Another question I love to ask for the end of interviews is if there’s a book or a number of books, besides your own, of course, that have had a dramatic impact on your life, and if so what they are and why.

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, so I’ve been doing this work my entire life. I’m the daughter of Italian immigrants. And my parents taught me food was medicine. And so, the book that has really had the most dramatic impact on me is a book called “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” by Phyllis Balch, B-A-L-C-H. And it’s really an encyclopedia that talks to you about nutrition and supplements. And I started doing integrative care before even the internet. So, I had to go look at microfiche, people, if you know what that is. You might have to google what microfiche is, right? And this book was just transformational for me. I practically have this book memorized. And you can buy it on Amazon. And every mother should have this book as a resource because if your kid’s got a bellyache, it’s gonna give you nutrition and supplements. And they have a homeopathy version as well. So, just made a huge impact in understanding that we put limits in healing in the allopathic world, but in the Eastern world, and, you know, when you really talk about integrative care, it means combining the best of things. So, I just think it’s a book everybody should have read and just have on their shelf.

Katie: I love it. I don’t know that anyone has suggested that on this podcast yet. But it reminds me, my mom had that book when I was a kid as well. And I actually saw it yesterday on her bookshelf when I was having coffee with her in the morning. And yeah, there’s so much information in it. And ironically, you would think you’d be able to find all that information online. But yeah, it’s so hard to dig through. And as Google has changed the results to prioritize the more mainstream medical side, it’s harder and harder to find those things. So, that’s a great idea to have that resource on hand because when you have a child who has an earache or who has a stomachache, you want the answers now. So that’s such a good suggestion.

Dr. Roseann: And it led me to build, sort of, a resource, Katie, of, like, what are the things you wanna have on hand? Like, I love getting a mom’s homeopathy kit. When I go to a baby shower, first of all, I’m Italian, so you know you’re gonna get a good gift, but I bring homeopathy. I bring things that, you know, are safe for moms and babies so that they can start their wellness mama journey and realize that, you know, you don’t have to have, you know, a chemical if your kid is constipated or whatever it is. So, it’s a great resource.

Katie: Perfect. I will make sure people can find that as well. It will be in the show notes. Any parting advice for all the parents listening before we wrap up?

Dr. Roseann: Yeah, you know, nobody ever regrets getting help. They only regret when they don’t. And if your kid is struggling in the tiniest way, you know, whether you wanna use “It’s Gonna Be Okay!” as the resource and actual tips or you wanna go to a licensed therapist, go. You know, it’s only gonna help bring lifelong health. And if we don’t have our mental health, we don’t have anything. And it doesn’t really matter all the physical things that you have, it’s gotta start…it all starts from within. And that’s what we need to focus on with our kids is that mind-body connection, the physical side, all these beautiful, holistic things, great food that you’re giving your kids, beautiful homes, education, but you’ve gotta build that internal resilience. And every parent has the power to do it.

Katie: And we’ve talked mostly about kids’ health and mental health today. But I think that’s another important point as we wrap up is, in many ways, we also have to be the example of this. And I know many moms who have some version of a health problem that also bleeds over into mental health. And I think it’s a very powerful thing when we get the chance to be the example of that because then our kids also get to learn by watching us work through a struggle and they get to see the resilience firsthand. So, I think that’s such an important point and a perfect place to wrap up. And like you said, I think there could be whole other episodes related just to the tick-borne illness side, and to prevention, and to a whole lot of other aspects of children’s mental health. But we’ll wrap up here for today. And if you guys have any follow-up questions for Dr. Roseann, please leave those on Instagram or in the comments so that if we can do a round 2 one day, we can make sure we address all of those things. But I know how busy you are as a mom and a practitioner, and I’m really grateful for you for being here today and for sharing.

Dr. Roseann: Well, thank you so much for supporting kids and family mental health because like I said, it’s just so important and more important than ever right now. And I want people to feel like they can take care of themselves. And understand, just as you said, self-care for mama is just as important as the love that we give our kids and you will lead and show your kids on such a deep level that you love yourself enough to take care of yourself but you’ll also show them what you can do for yourself by demonstrating that, so it’s so important. Such a great conversation. Thank you, Katie.

Katie: Oh, thank you. And thanks as always to all of you guys for listening, and for sharing your most valuable resources, your time, and your energy with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the “Wellness Mama” podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.