Mood disorders among young people part 2: the solutions
If you read the first instalment of my piece about the rise of mood disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.) among young people age 15-24, you’ll know there are a myriad of reasons why we’re seeing an increase in poor mental health in that demographic.
Today, I’m interested in sharing ways we can actually help youths caught up in the cycle of mental illness.
1. Seek outside help
If you suspect your child is struggling with their mental health, I highly recommend visiting a professional - be it an MD, and ND, or a counsellor.
A health practitioner, particularly one whose known your family for a little while, can offer unique insight into the environmental, hereditary, and genetic factors that may be playing a role in your or your child’s mental health issues.
There’s still quite a bit of stigma around mental health, but seeking the advice and wisdom of someone trained in this field can take an enormous weight off of your - and your child’s - shoulders.
5-HTP may help to increase serotonin synthesis as depression and anxiety have been
linked to serotonin imbalances in the brain.
Passionflower is known as a “calming” herb for anxiety or nervousness, insomnia,
generalized anxiety disorder, and ADHD.
PharmaGABA is the most inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Low levels of GABA
have been linked to anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Probiotics will restore imbalances in the microbiota in the gut that can negatively affect
B vitamins, especially B12, B6, B5 and folic acid are often low in people with anxiety and
Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the inflammatory response in the body, which seems to
be an underlying cause in depression and anxiety.
3. Eat clean
In part one of this series I spoke to inflammation, and how it’s thought to be the cause of some mood disorders.
The best way to reduce inflammation in the body is to start cutting out foods that cause it. The two biggest culprits here are refined sugar, and rancid cooking oils.
Sugar is tricky because it’s in everything, and it can be hard to monitor your kid’s diet - particularly because 15-24 year olds aren’t exactly kids anymore.
Try a little education - let you child know what sugar might be doing to their brain and their mood, and then explain that some less obvious foods (pre-packaged sauces, dips and dressings, for example) are rife with sugars. Encourage them to eat real food, pack healthy lunches when and if you can, and generally promote a low-sugar diet.
Cooking oils other than olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil go rancid when used at high heat, so basically anything deep-fried is quite inflammatory. My advice is the same as the low-sugar diet: stick to real foods, prepped at home, and you’ll probably be okay.
4. Limit screen time and social media access
Encourage your kids to get outside, see their friends in person, engage with their family, read, write (on paper!), play sports - anything that breaks up the lonely monotony that comes with “smart” technology.
“Phone free” zones and times of day can be really effective, as can strict boundaries - your kids may not like the feeling of being without their technology at first, but the benefits far outweigh the bad moods!
More than anything, if you suspect your teen/young adult is suffering, a little love & compassion can go a long way. It’s hard enough to be a teenager, but nowadays kids and young adults are contending with a world - and a level of mental health - we’ve never seen before. Try to be patient with them, and give them the support they need.