When it comes to mental health, a lot of teenagers are hurting. When you see those you care most about struggling, it can often feel like there’s nothing you can do. The good news is that there’s actually a lot you can do.
“I had no idea my kid struggled with depression.”
It’s something we’ve heard many times at The Wellness Way, and it always breaks our hearts. You may even be one of the millions of parents who have said it. Kids are hurting- even to the point of hurting themselves with knives and razors, and we need to know how to respond in a loving, understanding, but effective way.
There can be legitimate physiological reasons for depression. If you’ve been around The Wellness Way for a while, you know we compare the body to a Swiss watch because each organ and process impacts all the others. Mental health is no exception; we must know what’s going on with the other gears of the body to understand how best to help.
What’s Going On?
The CDC reports that between 2016 and 2019, 2.7 million kids between the ages of 3 and 17 shared that they had been depressed at some point in their lives. Of those 2.7 million kids, about 3 in 4 had anxiety, and nearly 1 in 2 had behavior problems.  There’s no denying that kids today are feeling pressure beyond that of previous generations. They have been ill-equipped to deal with emotions they either feel too strongly or not strongly enough.
What is mainstream medicine’s solution to this problem? They try to identify the causes and then teach the teen how to cope, not heal. Coping is what society has done with many illnesses, and you should never settle for it. We tend to cope with pain rather than finding the causes and addressing them.
Sadly, the typical way the medical system helps teens cope 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.
Potential Contributors to Depression
To understand how to treat anxiety and depression, we must uncover the causes of both. There are internal and external causes, and we can boil the underlying factors down to a few contributors.
1. THE GUT
We all have beneficial bacteria in the gut that aid digestion and absorption processes. The whole body is affected when there is a problem in the gut because of its intricate connection with the central nervous system.
Leaky gut, or intestinal hyper-permeability, has been getting lots of exposure lately because it’s a problem that is getting bigger and bigger. To put it simply, food passes through your intestines as a teenager’s body surfs over the crowd at a concert. When the crowd stops passing, the teenager slips between people and crashes to the ground. This is like food breaking through the one-cell thick barrier into the bloodstream. We don’t want either of these situations. When undigested food passes into the bloodstream, it creates an immune system response. 
Mainstream doctors don’t make the connection between the gut and the brain, even though the Vagus nerve is an information super-highway between the two. The gut tells the brain how to respond to inflammation, and that can negatively affect neurotransmitter levels.
Hormones play a crucial role in every aspect of our lives, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Endocrine disruptors, like phthalates and parabens, mimic or interfere with these hormones. Exposure to endocrine disruptors is more common than you’d think. Cleaning products, office products, kitchen products, personal care products, drinking water, and even thermal receipts can expose you to disruptors. 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 immune feature known as the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), responsible for keeping foreign substances out of the brain. Heavy metals will also stay in the body unless you support your body in removing them while avoiding future exposures. 
You can absorb heavy metals in many ways; antiperspirants, deodorants, and other conventional personal care and beauty supplies have them in abundance. But the biggest and most direct way to take them in is by having them injected into your body in vaccines. Mercury and aluminum are still key components in almost all vaccines. Not convinced? 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 (CDC) kindly lists them here. 
A subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae. That doesn’t sound like much, but a misaligned spine can have many downstream effects. Spinal subluxations alter the function of spinal nerve roots, leading to symptoms in the organs served by those roots. It can cause neurotransmitter problems, affecting your mood and emotions.
These misalignments can be caused by a variety of things: poor posture, sleep positions, furniture, unhealthy diet, coughs, and sneezes, as well as traumas — both large and small. One lousy step could harm you as much as an automobile accident.
As a society, we are more stressed than ever. Every day the internet opens a window to the world’s suffering. Bullying is taking place, both in cyberspace and in person. Fashion, social pressure, gender confusion, and academic stress only add to the anxiety faced by today’s youth. We are immersed in a negative and polarizing environment, and it can be challenging to stay above it.
For these reasons, controlling your thoughts may seem like 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.”
Our society takes in more sugar than we ever have in history. Sugary drinks—even ones that claim to be healthy or beneficial after a workout—may be the most significant factor, but that’s not the only place we get it. Check the labels of your bread, soups, and condiments. Chances are, you’ll find sugar on the list of ingredients.  Much research has been done connecting sugar intake to poor mental health—especially depression.  
The body is a complicated instrument to keep working correctly, so testing is crucial to finding the right way to help support it. When feeling the effects of dis-ease, remember that it’s the body communicating that something is off and needs to be addressed. Being deficient in a necessary nutrient, such as Vitamin D or magnesium, can lead to depression as one of those signals. 
The Wellness Way Can Help!
At The Wellness Way, we understand there is a reason the body behaves the way it does. Proper testing helps to reveal the sources of dysfunction, including factors that lead to depression. The medical community typically focuses on and bases a course of treatment (usually a pharmaceutical) on preconceived ideas rather than actual testing.  They treat symptoms rather than finding causes. While the medication may temporarily make a person feel better, they never get to the root of the problem, and one condition can lead to another. Depression is complicated, but there is hope.
To get proper testing and on the road to feeling better, contact a Wellness Way clinic today!
- Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health: CDC
- Zonulin, regulation of tight junctions, and autoimmune diseases: PubMed
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: What Is It?: WebMD
- Heavy Metal Poisoning (Toxicity): Cleveland Clinic
- What’s in Vaccines?: CDC
- The sweet danger of sugar: Harvard Health
- What to Know About Sugar and Depression: WebMD
- High sugar intake linked with poorer long-term mental health: University College London
- Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions: PubMed
- Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment: Elsevier
- The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence: Nature