Parents never want to see their children suffer, either physically or emotionally. Unfortunately, clinical depression in children has become increasingly common. Turning to prescription drugs can be a scary decision, and they often turn out to be unsuccessful in alleviating the problem.
It is common for a child's depressive symptoms to be the result of nutritional deficiencies or food allergies. The gut-brain connection is important to consider when dealing with issues regarding depression or other mood disorders.
Use an Elimination Diet to Find Food Allergies
Depression is common in children and adolescents who have celiac disease. The only way to treat this disease is by avoiding gluten in the diet. A gluten-free diet has been found to be effective in relieving symptoms of depression in children with celiac disease.
Celiac disease often remains undiagnosed. Young children who are tested may yield negative results if their underdeveloped immune systems haven't begun to produce the "anti-gluten" antibodies that are measured in blood tests.
Children may also test negative for celiac disease, yet still have some level of gluten intolerance. It has been found that people still show evidence of intestinal damage from gluten even without the presence of the anti-gluten antibodies.
Gluten isn't the only substance in food that can cause reactions such as depression. Intolerance to dairy, certain plant toxins, or chemical additives like MSG are just a few examples of foods that can trigger mood disorders.
In order to determine if food allergies are an issue, an elimination diet is most effective. Remove what might be the offending substance from your child's diet for a period of three weeks to a month. Record any differences that you and your child discover.
If the symptoms of depression persist, try cutting out another type of food. Be sure to remove only one type of food or substance at a time so that you will be able to pinpoint the exact problem. Also, be sure to save any observations on paper. This process can also provide helpful information for your child's physician.
Remove Refined Sugar from the Diet
Sugar is an addictive substance that triggers a dopamine response in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important part in feelings of pleasure and motivation. Dopamine levels must be in balance for a healthy brain.
Binging on sugar is a common way for both adults and children to find comfort when they are feeling down and depressed. Unfortunately, sugar is not only unhealthy for the body, but can also cause fluctuations in dopamine levels. Although a sugar binge can make you feel good, that feeling is only temporary.
Sugar in the diet also causes extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Sugar consumption can make you feel hyper and excited when your blood sugar level spikes, then sluggish and depressed when it crashes down.
A high-sugar diet also increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. The Yale School of Nursing found that children with diabetes have a two-fold greater risk of becoming clinically depressed than those who don't have diabetes. Diabetic adolescents have a three-fold greater susceptibility to depression than an average adolescent.
Depression in children can often be the result of problems in the diet. Many children suffer from undiagnosed food allergies that can bring about a variety of mood disorders. Elimination diets or the removal of refined sugars from the diet can provide relief for depressed children.