The Winter Blues: Seasonal Depression Awareness Month
The holiday season is full of festivities and cheer, but for many children and youth the change from fall to winter brings about a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of major depression that occurs during seasonal changes and can last 4-5 months. While SAD can occur at any time of the year, winter-related seasonal depression is the most common. The shorter winter days, Daylight Savings, and the change in weather are thought to contribute to recurrent seasonal depression.
Symptoms of winter-related seasonal depression include:
- Eating too much
- Sleeping too much
- Less physical activity
- Avoiding social gatherings
- Lack of interest or motivation with hobbies or schoolwork
- Recurrent depression with seasonal changes
What You can Do to Help Your Child
Although we can’t change the seasons, we can help our children and youth develop the habits and skills needed to combat SAD. If you observe any of the symptoms, there are steps you can take to help your child:
- SUNLIGHT: Make it a habit to go outside at least once a day. Many children and youth may get ready for school before the sun rises and go home when it is dark. Spending time outside will boost their energy.
- EXERCISE: With colder weather it is tempting to stay indoors but exercising will help with sleeping issues and boost their mental health.
- EAT HEALTHY: The holiday season is full of yummy treats, but the increase in sugar and fatty foods may contribute to children and youth’s lethargic energy levels.
- CELEBRATE ACHIVEMENTS: Many children and youth may experience depression at the end of the calendar year as the New Year approaches. Celebrate milestones and achievements with your children and teens to pave a positive path to the new year.
- SEEK HELP: Don’t be afraid to seek professional help for you and your child or teen for Seasonal Affective Disorder. A mental health professional can help you and your child learn coping skills or find the right medication or therapy to combat SAD.
By talking to your child or teen you can work together to combat their seasonal depression. If you observe signs and symptoms of stress in your child or teen and believe it may be more than holiday stress, call our admissions team today for a free and confidential screening at (805) 366-4000.