Seasonal Affective Disorder, or as it's commonly referred to, SAD, is a common type of depression that typically hits adults when the summer sun is no longer shining and the darker, gray days of winter start to set in. However, SAD is a disorder that can also hit children hard and oftentimes, goes undiagnosed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 10 to 20 percent of Americans may feel the effect of this type of seasonal depression each year, and although the onset of SAD often doesn't arrive until around age 20, if you have a child who is prone to forms of depression throughout the year, this is something you should put on your radar for when the days start getting shorter and the sun is shining less.
The signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder in children are similar to those of adults who suffer from SAD, the biggest being a change in personality from one that is typically healthy and happy, to one that is more withdrawn and moody.
For children, you may first notice signs of SAD in their schoolwork or ability to listen in class. They may also not be as inclined to play with friends or have you schedule play dates. The signs of SAD may even appear in their eating habits — are they craving carbs and comfort foods more than usual?
The best thing that you can do for your child, if you think that he or she has Seasonal Affective Disorder is to be conscious of what they are going through. While you often hear of adults with SAD sitting next to light lamps to get through the winter months, that is not a common treatment for children. For most children, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated at home. However, if your child already suffers from forms of depression or is taking an anti-depressant medication, special considerations may want to be taken, under the guidance of your doctor.
Instead, fight the SAD with these simple techniques:
Please remember that your best resource is your child's doctor. If you think your child or anyone else in your family is experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, please make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
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