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Seasonal Affective Disorder does not discriminate – children can be affected by this common type of depression. The following information will help you determine if your child is suffering from SAD, and how to address it.
As the cold winter months drag on, you may be noticing changes in your child’s behavior. At first you may have expected your suddenly surly teen to snap out of it, or your little one to pull out of the funk they seem to have settled into over the holidays. The fact is your child may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
While seasonal affective disorder isn’t present in all children, research suggests that as many as 1 million school-age children and teens in the U.S. may suffer from SAD according the American Academy of Pediatrics. This common form of depression is directly related to the seasonal variations in the amount of sunlight during the winter months.
Even though SAD is a fairly well-known disorder, recognizing SAD in children can be especially difficult. Symptoms are often less clear cut and easier to dismiss as a phase, stress, or boredom. It often takes time to recognize a seasonal pattern. With that said, the following symptoms can point to a potential problem.
Practical ways to address Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you think that your child might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s important that you contact your child’s physician to discuss alternatives for diagnosis and treatment. Light therapy is a common solution, but the following practical steps can also help the entire family pull out of hibernation mode throughout the dark days of winter.
Change your mindset. Find something to enjoy about winter. If you tend to complain throughout the winter, make the effort to find something to be thankful for each day. You have to get through the season one way or another, you might as well find something positive about it!
Clean your home. This may not be the most exciting way to alleviate SAD, but starting spring cleaning early can help.
Provide physical support. Depression attacks both the mind and the body so be sure to offer practical help in the way of nutrition and sleep, as well as rely on the benefits of mood altering support from music and laughter.
Most importantly though, if you think your child or anyone else in your family is experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, make an appointment with your healthcare provider for additional support.
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