By Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Loss of Motivation
I am regularly being contacted by parents of young teenage boys 13-14, about their son having suddenly lost all motivation for school work and even sports.
“All he wants to do is sleep in, lounge around and play video games,” is a common comment.
"He is skipping classes and his grades are going down.”
“I’m worried about him getting into alcohol and experimenting with drugs.”
Of course, the teenage years can be challenging for any family, but taking a closer look at a couple of the biological parameters underlying some of these issues can lead to some surprisingly helpful changes in your teenage son.
He just may get off the couch and start attending classes again, be less grumpy and perhaps even be less tempted by alcohol and drugs.
One of my clients brought in a 14-year-old who had grown about a foot in the past year. At 6’1 he was a willowy heap slumped in my office chair. A detailed look at a week-long diet diary and a hair analysis confirmed my suspicion that he was woefully low in calcium, magnesium and zinc. Blood work showed vitamin D deficiency.
I explained to his mother that her son needed more nutrients to support his accelerated growth, including a lot more calcium, complementary minerals and plenty of vitamin D. We discussed his diet and I advised on the proper doses of supplements.
He was also playing a lot of video games, which can cause dopamine level depletion.
The Dopamine Dragon
Dopamine is a feel-good hormone released by experiencing pleasurable rewards such as eating, sex, the use of stimulant drugs as well as playing video games, all things popular with the teenage boy set. The male brain is especially wired to respond to domamine.
Overuse of such stimuli depletes dopamine which makes the person feel bad and drives them to seek more of the same stimuli, often creating a cycle of addiction, especially in males as their brains are more driven by dopamine than those of females.
Fortunately, some simple dietary and herbal interventions can help the teenage boy brain recover faster from dopamine slumps. I advised the pair to include lots of high-quality protein in his diet, especially for breakfast.
An undenatured-whey-protein smoothie can be a good start to the day or as a snack anytime. Adding some digestive enzymes to the smoothie and letting it sit for 10 minutes before consuming can help to start the protein break-down into free amino acids which can be readily absorbed by the body and quickly used by the brain.
Adding some good fats such as MCT oil, fish oil and ghee and provide much needed support for brain cell membranes.
Vitex agnus castus, also known as chasteberry, is an herb that can also help to improve depleted dopamine levels.
There you have it, understanding teenage growth and dopamine levels can make your day after all! Of course sometimes other intervention is needed so if this does not improve your son’s disposition please consider coming in for an office visit.
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Classical and Modern Homeopathy
6550 Throup Road
Sooke, BC, V9Z 0W6
Serving families in Sooke, Metchosin, Langford, Colwood, Victoria, Greater Vancouver Island, BC, as well as intenationally via skype and zoom.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4