Understanding Five Surprising Contributors to Teen Depression
“I had no idea my kid struggled with depression.”
It’s something we’ve heard many times, and it always breaks our hearts. You may even be one of the millions of parents who have said it. Kids are hurting- even hurting themselves with knives and razors, and we need to know how to respond in a loving, understanding, but effective way. Not everything can be handled by “Sucking it up.” There may be legitimate, physiological reasons for depression and it is vital that we know exactly what’s going on.
Time Magazine, dated November 7, 2016 ran a cover story titled, The Kids Are Not All Right, by Susanna Schrobsdorff. The article introduces us to a collection of teenagers who have been struggling with, as the cover proclaims, “Anxiety, Depression and the American Adolescent.” There’s no denying that kids today are feeling pressure unlike that of previous generations. They have been ill equipped to deal with the emotions that they either feel too strongly or not enough.
By the numbers in the article, almost 3 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode in 2015. Females were almost 4 times as likely as their male counterparts. Those numbers should concern us.
We get the first clue about how the medical community is dealing with the problem near the end of the piece. It says:
Some of the treatments (for self-harm) are similar to those for addiction, particularly in the focus on identifying underlying psychological issues- what’s causing the anxiety and depression in the first place- and then teaching healthy ways to cope.
The statement reveals that the Emperor is wearing no clothes. They are trying to identify the causes, and then teaching how to cope- not heal. Coping is what society has done with many illnesses, and you should never settle for it. We cope with pain rather than finding the causes and addressing it.
Sadly, the typical response is to put them on a prescription drug. Prescription drugs will alter their chemistry further and, at best, only address the symptoms– they will not tackle the actual problem.
I’m sorry, but this is the truth.
CONTRIBUTORS TO DEPRESSION
To understand how to treat anxiety and depression it’s vital that we know the causes of both. There are internal and external causes, and we can boil the causes down to five things.
1. The Gut.
We all have flora and bacteria in our stomach that aids the digestion and absorption processes. When there is a problem in the gut, because of the intricate connection with the central nervous system, the whole body is affected.[i]
Leaky Gut Syndrome is something that has been getting some exposure lately, because it’s a problem that is getting bigger and bigger. It’s also called intestinal hyper permeability, a name that gives a better idea of what it is.
To put it simply, food passes through your intestines in the same way a teenager body surfs over the crowd at a concert. When the crowd stops passing, the teenager slips between people and crashes to the ground. When this happens with food in your body, undigested food passes into the blood stream creating an immune system response. [ii]
Doctors don’t connect the gut and the brain, even though the Vagus nerve is an information super-highway between the two. The gut is telling the brain how to respond to inflammation, and it’s affecting the neurotransmitter levels.
- Low Taurine will cause anxiousness, sleep difficulties and cardiovascular stress.[iii]
- Low Serotonin will lead to panic, anxiety, anger and depression.[iv]
- Low Glutamate may be an indication of low immune activation, causing focus issues.[v]
- Elevated Dopamine causes focus issues and sleeping difficulties.[vi]
- Elevated Norepinephrine causes anxiousness, focus issues, sleep difficulties, weight issues, vascular issues and immune stress.[vii]
Hormones play such a key role in every aspect of our lives, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Disruptors will affect both serotonin and dopamine.
Exposure to disruptors on a regular basis is more common than you would think. Cleaning products, office products, store bought produce, kitchen products, personal care products, drinking water, and even thermal receipts can expose you to disruptors.[viii]
When disruption occurs, it will affect most of the pathways and organs in your body. For this reason, it is vital to have your hormone levels checked.
3. Heavy Metals.
Heavy metals are a problem because they change the body’s chemistry, resulting in chronic health issues. They will disrupt the detox pathway known as the Blood/Brain Pathway, which is responsible for keeping bad stuff out of the brain. Heavy metals will also stay in the body unless you take a direct course of action to have them removed.[ix]
You can absorb heavy metals many ways- antiperspirant and other health/beauty supplies seem to have it in abundance. But the biggest, and most direct way to take them in is having them injected into your body in vaccines. Mercury and aluminum are still key components in almost all vaccines. Don’t believe me? Ask the pharmacist or nurse to show you the ingredient list, and pay close attention to the possible side effects. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention kindly lists them here.[x]
Subluxation is defined as a slight misalignment of the vertebrae. That doesn’t sound like much but when your spine is out of alignment it can have many effects. Spinal subluxation alters/changes the function of spinal nerve roots, which causes symptoms in the organs served by those roots. It can cause problems for neurotransmitters, which will affect your moods and emotions.
These misalignments can be caused by a variety of things: incorrect posture, sleep positions, furniture, bad diet, coughs and sneezes, as well as traumas- both large and small. A bad step has the potential to harm you as much as an automobile accident.
Speaking of moods and emotions…
As a society, we are more stressed than ever. The post 9/11 generation has never lived in a world without fear, both real and perceived. Every day the internet opens a window to the world’s suffering. Bullying is taking place, cyber and otherwise, and it has an effect whether you are the bully or the bullied. Fashion, social pressure, gender confusion and scholastic stress only add to the anxiety today’s youths face. We are immersed in a negative, and polarizing environment, and it is hard staying above it.
For these reasons, it may seem like controlling your thoughts will be the hardest item to address on this list, but it is possible. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”
THE FIRST STEP
Pathway To Wellness is uniquely positioned to address all five contributors. People come to us for them all the time. Why? Because we understand there is a reason that the body is behaving the way it is. The proper test will reveal the source of dysfunction, including the factors that lead to depression.
For instance, one neurotransmitter test can give us accurate, solid data about what is happening in your body and how it is affecting your neurology. [xi]
What we typically see is the medical community focusing on and basing a course of treatment (usually a pharmaceutical) on a preconceived opinion. They treat symptoms rather than finding causes. That may be helpful, but only to a point; they never get to the reason for the problem.
The problem of adolescents battling anxiety and depression is too big for us to ignore – 3 million kids in 2015 alone! That’s a staggering number, and we need to find out why this is happening. If you have a child, or know anybody who has a child or adult friend who is suffering, please share this information with them.
Depression is complicated, but there is hope.