The teenage years are a crucial time for growth and development. Providing your teenager with the power to be in control of their health and wellness is essential for their future. Along with physical changes, teens also go through social and academic changes, to name a few. Incorporating healthy habits and addressing the root cause of any disease early in development are beneficial in all aspects. Below you will find insight regarding teen health from some of our practitioners. Our team will work together to help your teen feel empowered to lead a healthy lifestyle and thrive during this time of their lives.
Dr. Marika Berni, ND- Naturopathic Doctor
The teenage years bring with them a whole new set of health issues. With the onset of puberty, teenagers go through a unique and often trying phase of life. With rapidly changing bodies and huge pressures to fit in and excel in today’s competitive school environment, teenagers face increased physical and mental/emotional stressors.
Many health conditions can appear at this phase of life. Acne, menstrual irregularities, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, issues with sports performance, digestive disorders, growth pains, weight issues (both under and over weight), frequent illnesses, and fatigue are just some of these issues.
Naturopathic medicine can do so much for this age. My favorite patients have become teenagers. I enjoy creating a new bond with them as they are becoming more mature and begin to take responsibility for their own health. I believe that this is such an important message to get across to our teenagers – they are able to improve, and maintain their own health. Naturopathic medicine provides the guidance and tools to help them feel more empowered about their health and wellbeing. It is important to teach our teenagers proper nutritional habits, which will help them to make the right choices as they begin a life of greater independence and perhaps leave us to go to away to school.
My visit with a teenager would consist of a detailed intake of medical history and present issues, which would then help me to determine any necessary testing such as blood work. A plan for a teenager would encompass dietary suggestions, nutritional and/or herbal supplements (not too many as compliance can often be an issue with teens), and lifestyle adjustments. This natural approach supports the body and helps your child transition through these years with minimal disruption.
Take, for example, a teen suffering from anxiety. I would first assess via blood work whether there are any nutritional deficiencies, or hormonal disruptions which could be contributing to these symptoms. We would look at lifestyle issues – sleep, exercise, and social interactions. Nutritional advice would be tailored to support the various hormones and neurotransmitters, which contribute to anxiety. There are so many wonderful supplements, which can provide support gently and naturally.
Sometimes we parents need to outsource this support as teenagers are often much more open to advice from anyone other than their parents at this stage of their life. Instilling in your teenager a sense of awareness and responsibility about their health and body is as important, if not more important than giving them a good education or work ethic. Good health brings success and confidence and that is what we hope to teach our teenagers.
Sandy Antunes, M. OMSc.- Osteopathic care
Anyone can benefit from osteopathy, including teens. As children become adolescents, there can be rapid changes both structurally and physiologically. Soreness or discomfort known as “growing pains” is the body trying to adapt to these changes and are quite common. Having said that it is important to differentiate between “growing pains” and pain caused by an underlying issue. There are a number of things that can have an affect on the growth and everyday functions of a teen:
- Spinal Growth: Spinal growth and development can be impeded and/or affected by untreated childhood injuries, even without symptoms.
- Posture: Posture-related dysfunctions affected by heavy backpacks/one-shoulder bags, bad posture/sitting in a classroom for long periods, constantly on computers/phones/games.
- Orthodontics: Orthodontics not only affect what is happening in their mouths, we have to take into consideration what effect it may be having on the rest of their body and how that will affect their overall health.
- Sleep: Sleep is vital for development, healing capability, memory retention and general alertness; if your teen is having trouble sleeping it is important to review what could be having a negative impact (in their life), such as stimulating or environmental factors that could be affecting their body.
- Anxiety and Depression: In adolescents these can have a tremendous impact on their health.
- Menstrual problems in teenage girls can relate to even seemingly minor physical trauma or activity in sports, dance, gymnastics or even inactivity.
Agnes Dupin, BSW, MSW, RSW – Family Therapist
Teenage years are a time of metamorphosis, not only for the child (in her/his way to become an adult) but also for the family. While the child needs to adapt to their changing body, it is also a time of exploration and discovery: who am I, who will I become? Parents also need to adjust to these changes. Teenagers still need their parents but not in the same way.
In times of change, stress will occur naturally but in this phase of life, the way in which we learn to deal with it can have a crucial impact on us for the rest of our lives.
It is as if your teenager’s brain is under new “management” with hormonal changes making them more sensitive and ready to burst or lash out. As parents, we need to be more flexible and sensitive to how our children may need us to respect their space, but also ready to reach out if they present changes in behaviors such as withdrawal from family and friends and total loss in interest in previously enjoyed activities. A teenager’s brain is more at risk to addictive behaviors as it is hard-wired to be more sensitive to the positive effects than the negative ones. Mental health issues during the teenage years could impact their ability to learn and adjust if no appropriate support is put into place.
As a child and family therapist, I support the family system through this metamorphosis: I help teenagers by listening, giving them a voice, helping them find their way, and providing them with strategies and tools to support healthy mental health development. I support parents to smoothly transition to becoming the parents of a teenager. The teenage’s years can be both challenging and rewarding. Nonetheless it is a stage of incredible learning and creativity which, as humans, makes us unique.
Patti MacGregor, RMT – Massage therapist
Often massage therapy is specifically marketed to adults, but it can be beneficial for both children and teenagers as well. Studies have shown that short regular massages have positive effects for children dealing with ADD and ADHD helping the child to become calmer and more focused. Usually these type of massages are done with the child in comfortable clothing and either seated or laying down, would consist of mostly arm and leg work with some focus to the back, and only last about 15-25 mins.
Massage therapy for teens enrolled in competitive sports or professional music programs can be enormously helpful. On top of the emotional stress of being a teenager, doing homework and finding time to socialize, these kids are also spending hours honing their craft. Be it an instrument or a sport it will eventually take its toll and result in either an early burn out or injury.
Massage treatment options for teens can be based on their comfort level, the treatments could be anywhere from 30-90 mins long. They can be done with the client wearing shorts and a t shirt, or a more traditional Swedish massage with sheets and oil. Thai Massage is great for athletes; it’s all about improving flexibility and increasing range of motion. This type of massage is done on the floor with the client wearing comfortable loose fitting clothing while seated or lying on a mat. The easiest description is lazy mans yoga, the therapist does all the work guiding the client through a series of yoga postures while adding a stretch and using acupressure points.
Even if you have an average young adult at home, massage therapy can be great for helping them through the stress of being a teenager. With all the physical and emotional changes teens go through, combined with a less then optimal diet many of them may have, and the erratic sleep schedule on top of it, teens are at increased risk for developing aches, pains and injury.
Massage has also been proven to help with anxiety and depression, lowering aggressive tendencies, improving posture and decreasing overall stress and tension. It can improve body image, and sleep patterns, lower stress hormones, increase immunity and heighten concentration levels.
If you have a teen in your life, book them in for a massage today and make everyone happier!