Winter time is quite a long and is often spent indoors due to colder temperatures and shorter days. Mix that in with a slew of Holiday events that changes one’s routine and it can be more than enough to affect someone – including adults, adolescents, and kids. However, for some, it goes beyond sadder moods as six percent of the population is affective by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is seasonal – as its name suggests. It is the type of depression that shows up in the fall and winter and usually lifts when sunlight returns. And while there is no known cause for it, doctors such as Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, believes it has something to do with neurochemicals melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood, decreases when there are fewer hours of daylight, and melatonin, responsible for regulating sleep, increases, and it is these fluctuations that are often associated with depression.
It can also be noted that those with a history of depression in the family are most likely to be affected.
Signs to look out for in your children
Parents, especially during the busiest time of the year, tend to overlook the symptoms because they dismiss it as a child simply being blue during the winter. However, if your child’s gloom is accompanied by irritability, being tired all the time, and having less interest in things they usually enjoy therefore affecting overall performance in school then you might want to look further into their mood swings. Changes in appetite in your child must also be observed including the timeframe and severity of symptoms.
What to Do
No known way has been determined to treat SAD but practicing healthy habits are helpful. In knowing what SAD is and what triggers it, you can now work on activities that will allow your child to spend time outside when the sun is still out. It is also important for your child (and yourself!) to exercise during the winter season, as well as eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetable, whole grains, and of course, encouraging them to get enough sleep.
Despite the holiday rush, it is quite important to stay connected with your kids. It’s important to let them know that you are there for them when they need to talk about the blues and that they can freely express their emotions at any time. Staying connected will also help you as a parent to be alert to whatever changes in behavior there may be.
And of course, if symptoms persist, it’s important to get in touch with a mental health provider that can help you in understanding what your child is going through and what else they need to get through the season.
Arming yourself with knowledge is the best way to ensure that no matter what the season brings, he/she will be okay.
If your child or if you know of a child that is suffering and need additional support, please call us at 888-9489998.