Raising Healthy Teens in the 21st Century
Many adults remember our teen years as a chaotic stretch of biological, social and psychological challenges, yet today’s teenagers face a host of challenges unknown to past generations. Dr. Jerron C. Hill, anesthesiologist, medical director and founder of the Ketamine Health & Wellness Center of Texas, says that social media creates additional anxiety about appearances, success, grades and college, along with worry and fear of domestic and world terrorism.
Hill gets referrals from psychiatrists for teens and children as young as 11 years old suffering from depression and anxiety, along with a spike in eating disorders. “In that population of patients, they suffer from anxiety and depression, but also are high risk for suicidal ideations,” he says. “Psychiatry studies show that teen stress is on the rise. It can be equal to or more excessive than stress in adults; adults may have work stressors, but teens are going through many hormonal changes and they’re pressured to fit into social groups, they’re bullied, there are academic pressures, they’re worried about how their bodies are changing, and they have to deal with issues such as premarital sex and taking drugs.”
Hill encourages parents to help alleviate anxiety by listening and encouraging teens to talk about their emotions, and by teaching good coping strategies. “Teens must realize their self-worth is not determined by materialism or necessarily in their academic performance, but about being loved and following their passion. They should not put too much pressure on themselves,” he says.
The prefrontal cortex in teens’ brains has not yet developed to its full potential in order to control stress, Hill explains, so it’s important that teens’ diets consist of nutritious foods with fatty acids for brain health, along with zinc and vitamin D. At the Ketamine Health & Wellness Center, Hill and his staff treat teens for anxiety and depression with intravenous ketamine and vitamin infusions. He has also recently incorporated cannabidiol (CBD), without the psychoactive property (THC) of the cannabis plant, into treatments.
Hill researched CBD through materials he received from a functional and integrative medicine conference and was impressed by how CBD works with the body to alleviate anxiety, sleep disorders, pain and more. “I was really excited about the endocannabinoid system (ECS), because we all have these receptors in our brain, central nervous system and throughout our body. The ECS maintains homeostasis, or balance,” he explains. “Stress creates an imbalance. Because stress can create anxiety and depression, we know that when patients are depressed, their neurons in the prefrontal cortex shrink or are lost.”
CBD can be used in conjunction with vitamin infusions, Hill says. He emphasizes his use of medical-grade CBD is available only to physicians and pharmacists. Because CBD is largely unregulated, he urges consumers to check for certificates of analysis and third-party testing lab reports on CBD products to be sure the potency, quality and purity are as advertised.
In addition, Hill uses ketamine, an anesthetic drug that has been proven to help with mood disorders and chronic pain. “Ketamine helps regenerate neurons and increases brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). CBD acts to increase glutamate and serotonin levels. That’s why CBD can be used to treat anxiety, depression and chronic pain,” he says. These remedies, along with mental health counseling, nutrition and exercise, calms the sympathetic nervous system, and can help teens during their tumultuous years.
“Parents need to pay attention to their child if they’re withdrawn, crying more or seem more temperamental,” Hill advises. “This may be a good indication to talk with a mental health provider. It would help if parents would explain to their children that they were once teens and have overcome some of the same obstacles. I want teens to know that their parents love them, and though they may be going through a transition, trust their parents’ wisdom and communicate the issues of the heart because they have a lot of wisdom. I think if parents respect their children and children respect the role of the parent, it will all work out.”
Ketamine Health & Wellness is located at 5944 W. Parker Rd., Ste. 400, Plano. For more information, call 972-212-4341 or visit KetamineHealthTX.com.