Depression Rates Climbing in Adolescent Girls

March 28, 2017

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Depression Rates Climbing in Adolescent Girls
A recent study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the number of teenagers reporting depressive symptoms has grown by 37 percent over the last decade. The increase is particularly seen in white females, with one in six girls reporting a bout of depression in the last year. Interestingly, these reports of increased mental stress are occurring despite increases in mental health interventions. It is clear more needs to be done.

The findings of this study indicate a growing number of young people with untreated depression. If life’s demands have gotten to you or your teenager, nutrition can help to support a healthier brain and more positive mood. Make sure they get enough of these good mood nutrients:

DHA – DHA is the primary essential fatty acid that accumulates in brain tissue and is the most biologically active fat in your brain. Studies in teens that show DHA has powerful benefits for treating and preventing depression, even in small doses, and that a lack of the fatty acid leads to anxiety, major depression and postpartum depression. In a study of women, those with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids (both DHA and EPA) were 49 percent less likely to experience depression. When it comes to supplementing with fish oil, be sure to take a highly purified form that does not contain mercury, which is toxic to your brain.

B Vitamins – Insufficient intake of vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12 are associated with depression and a poor mood. The B vitamins are required to make energy in every cell of the body. When energy levels are inadequate, mood can suffer. Another big part of maintaining a positive mood starts with ensuring adequate levels of serotonin are present in the brain. Adequate levels are associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. Vitamins B3, B6, and folate are required to make serotonin. Stress rapidly depletes the B vitamins, so if you are under stress and your mood is suffering, supplementing with coenzyme B vitamins will surely help.

Friendly Flora – Recent research is showing that the bacteria that naturally inhabits your gut influences your mood for better or worse. Serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter, plays a key role in mood elevation and is primarily made in the gut. If there is stress in the digestive system, serotonin won’t be produced in the gut. This is one reason individuals with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), candida, H. Pylori or Leaky Gut Syndrome often have symptoms like depression, brain fog, and moodiness. Supplementing with probiotics can help elevate a low mood by improving dysbiosis, the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Supplement with hearty strains of probiotics like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium that can survive the conditions of the stomach best.

Vitamin D – A study in adults revealed participants with major and minor depression had 14 percent lower levels of vitamin D compared to the control group. Studies like this one demonstrate an association between vitamin D and a positive mood. Shorter days and more time spent indoors leads to lower vitamin D production during the winter which can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and clinical depression. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the production of serotonin and dopamine is compromised. Vitamin D is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, so inadequate levels can lead to the brain inflammation seen in depression. At least 2,500 IU of vitamin D should be taken daily in the winter months to prevent a low mood, especially in the Northern states.

Depression can be a warning sign that the body is lacking vital nutrition. Higher rates of poor diets, eating disorders, and a love of junk food will undoubtedly put adolescents at risk for a poor mood when stress builds. Make sure your teenagers are getting enough of these mood-boosting nutrients.

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