Some real answers for teen stress
Increasingly I am seeing young men and women in their late teens and early twenties with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety.
Renee, age 19, was an example. She has been prescribed an antidepressant, Celexa, Zopiclone for sleep and Ativan to be taken as needed for anxiety. The following is my five step plan for her.
1. Control blood sugar. Renee scored high on the hypoglycemia questionnaire that I had her complete. I reviewed her diet and she was not getting enough protein and too much sugar. I reviewed with her the foods she needed to eat daily to get 40 grams of protein. When she did this her cravings for sweets greatly reduced and she was able to control her blood sugars more readily. This helped to stabilize her moods. Hypoglycemia always needs to be ruled out in any case of anxiety.
2. Get eight to nine hours of sleep each night. Renee wasn’t sleeping well and one of my best remedies is taking a good quality calcium magnesium supplement before bed. This replaces the old fashioned “hot milk before bed” remedy. As I discourage the drinking of cows’ milk, I use a well absorbed supplement instead. I also reviewed with Renee “Sleep Hygiene” to be followed one hour before bed: no computer or TV, (reading in bed to fall asleep is encouraged), a hot bath (stabilizing core body temperature before bed is known to promote sleep), no electronic gadgets in the bedroom including TV’s or computers (this includes charging a cell phone), keep the window propped open at night for fresh air and keep the clock radio three feet from the head.
3. Rule out hypothyroidism and anemia. I did the blood work with Renee and determined by her ferritin iron stores that she was very anemic. By putting her on an iron supplement that she tolerated very well, her energy improved within two weeks. I will keep her on it for at least six months until her iron stores are normalized.
4. Correct basic deficiencies. Most North Americans are deficient in over 40 micronutrients. (See my article published July 27, 2011). Magnesium that I prescribed for Renee also increases energy and has a calming effect on the nervous system. My B complex combination provides the B vitamins necessary for stress reduction as well as thyroid support. I am convinced that B vitamins are a huge deficiency in North America due to the over processing of our foods. The other huge deficiency in this part of the world is Vitamin D, known for its antidepressant and energizing qualities. Most patients’ blood tests come back at half the value that I consider preventive for chronic diseases, including depression. One of the best sources for this is Carlson’s cod liver oil, that tastes good too. Cod liver oil is also an important source of omega 3 essential fats that are important for the treatment of depression.
5. Provide homeopathic mental and emotional support. I love using Rubimeds to help patients reduce and get off their anti-depressants. These are homeopathic combinations developed in Switzerland over 15 years ago that are prescribed over a one to two year period to help the person deal with unconscious conflicts that are obstacles to cure. They are very safe to take along with anti-depressants and a great adjunct.
Within one month of following the above protocols Renee was a different person.
She was off the Zopiclone and Ativan completely and she had reduced the dosage of Celexa by half.
We then decided to wait until the spring to continue weaning her off the Celexa.
In the meantime she had purchased a SAD light that she uses daily and she now has the energy to get back to her exercise program.
When the time comes I will introduce some herbal remedies as she lowers her Celexa dosage.
Under careful professional supervision, Renee will most likely be able to get off Celexa and keep off of them successfully, because we are doing it in a safe and gentle manner.
In the meantime the Rubimeds are helping her understand some of the underlying stresses that are contributing to her anxiety and I have counseled her on some stress reducing strategies.
In this day and age of increased risk of teen suicide, even with those on anti-depressants, I believe that there are some very real answers for this age group that may not be addressed in an orthodox medical approach.
Everyone is unique, so have a naturopathic physician support you in your understanding of your depression and anxiety for the best results for you.
Dr. Ingrid Pincott, naturopathic physician, has been practicing since 1985 and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or www.DrPincott.com