During the winter months in many parts of the country, kids often get bored or stay sedentary for too long during the day. This lack of activity and of attention can often affect children (as well as adults) in various ways. According to KidsHealth.org, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects some people and appears at the same time each year. Like other types of depression, the symptoms can be mild to severe and everywhere in between. There are several ways to recognize signs and symptoms of SAD, along with ways to prevent and treat it.
Signs of SAD usually include:
- Changes in mood, sleep, and eating – such as getting upset more often, sleeping more hours in the day, or overeating a certain type of food
- Lack of enjoyment, less time socializing, and low energy – such as loss of interest in hobbies, less time with friends, or unusual tiredness
- Difficulty concentrating – such as more trouble than usual completing assignments on time and lack of usual motivation in school or extracurricular activities
A person with SAD typically experiences symptoms of depression as winter approaches and daylight hours become shorter. It is believed that SAD is triggered by fewer hours of daylight exposure, but how and why this happens isn’t fully understood. KidsHealth reports that increased melatonin and decreased serotonin are thought to be involved. Melatonin, which is linked to sleep, is produced in greater quantities when it’s dark or when days are shorter. Increased production of melatonin can cause sleepiness and lethargy. Serotonin is increasingly produced with exposure to sunlight. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, so increasing the availability of serotonin helps to combat depression.
SAD is most common in teams and younger adults, but anybody can be affected. About 6 in 100 experience the condition. Depending on the severity, there are several ways to treat Seasonal Effect Disorder. Increased light exposure may be the best thing for mild symptoms. Medication or talk therapy may ease the patient and help with learning ways to prevent or minimize future bouts of SAD. A few things that parents in particular can do with children diagnosed with SAD:
- Encourage your child to get plenty of exercise and time outdoors.
- Find quality time with your child, even if it is helping with homework.
- Help your child eat right get into an established sleep routine.
Sometimes, too, kids and adults alike just get the winter blues. But if you think that your child might be having symptoms of SAD and/or they just don’t seem to be their usual energized little selves, bring them in to one of our easy-to-get-to locations! Pediatric Clinic of Mesquite now has locations in Mesquite, Sunnyvale, and in Garland, Texas. All locations have the mission of providing the best possible care for all of the heath care needs of our area’s children. Along with routine check-ups and immunization services, all of our locations offer night clinic hours, annual health evaluations, and in-house diagnostic and laboratory services. We love being a step above the rest!