Has the past year impacted your kids’ grades or ability to focus? Many of us experienced ups and downs during the past eighteen months; however, kids in particular have been through more changes than most. With virtual classes, not seeing their friends, and disrupted schedules, I’ve started to see more young patients ages 8 and up with anxiety and depression.
The good news is that we help patients of all ages overcome depression and anxiety the natural way. Read on to learn how to identify depression in children and how a balanced brain leads to a happier child.
Identify Issues Early On
It’s common for kids to be nervous during back-to-school season, but when their mood starts to drop or they begin to act differently, there may be something else going on.
These are the signs to look out for if you think your child has depression:
- Extreme fatigue
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Low mood and irritability
- Sleep difficulties
- Stomachaches or headaches that don’t respond to treatment
- Changes in appetite
- Sudden weight loss/gain
- Social withdrawal
- Issues paying attention
Persistent issues like these can impact kids’ daily lives. Next, we’ll look at how neurotransmitter tests help us identify and overcome the roots of depression in kids.
Uncover Root Causes with Testing
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers in the brain that control how we think and feel. They directly affect our mood, how we make decisions, and our ability to handle stress. These naturally occurring chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and histamine.
Each chemical, manufactured from amino acids in food, has a different effect on behavior and makes us feel happy or sad, anxious or calm, and emotionally stable or not. In kids, a neurotransmitter imbalance can look like: not doing well in school, social anxiety, sleeping too much or too little, inability to focus, and attention issues. Our neurotransmitter test uses a urine sample to determine which brain chemicals are out of balance.
Additionally, we offer nutrigenetic tests to determine if your child’s genetic makeup plays a part in anxiety and depression. This also evaluates neurotransmitters, specifically the COMT gene which breaks down dopamine; a defect here can cause irritability, focus issues, and depression. The GAD gene helps convert GABA, a very calming brain chemical. Low levels of GABA can be linked to increased anxiety, moodiness, and sleep issues.
These tests give us a starting point for a personalized treatment plan and ongoing care. Now, I’ll go over some of the ways we support patients who have depression.
Overcome Depression, Naturally
After the neurotransmitter test results are in, we create a custom plan to correct imbalances. A proper balance of neurotransmitter levels helps kids (and all of us!) achieve optimum health.
For my young patients, I recommend these paths to balance the brain and overcome depression:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Regular exercise routines
- Nutritional guidelines for what and when to eat
- Supplements for well-balanced nutrition
- Healthy stress outlets like yoga and meditation
- Reassurance from our team, family members and their extended support system
Research has shown that inflammation disrupts normal brain function, which makes proper nutrition and an anti-inflammatory diet important to depression recovery. I recommend a diet that is low in carbohydrates and rich in good fats to prevent and overcome depression. Anti-inflammatory foods to work into kids’ diets include:
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges
- Leafy greens
- Salmon and wild-caught fish
- Avocados & avocado oil
- Garlic, onions and chives
It’s important to note that if your child takes any prescription medications, please consult with their primary care doctor before making any lifestyle changes.
As we enter another school year, help your kids to be their healthiest and happiest. If they suffer from depression, we are here to help restore balance. Schedule an appointment for your child today.