Some children get affected by the change in season which also lead to a shift in their mood. Is it just the mood swings or the winter blues or something serious like seasonal affective disorder…
Sana was a bright child but post-Diwali, her parents found that she was having trouble in concentrating in class and her performance was not the same to that when she started school. Her parents were worried and considered it to be more of a passing phase as she was back to track in the new session. But the same happened in some months and her parents were worried.
Some children are affected by the change in season. The change in seasons alters their moods as well. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD and is a form of depression.
What is SAD:
SAD, is also referred to as the winter depression and is a sub-category of depression which is usually based on the seasonal pattern. This is more common in winter and people or children who suffer from SAD have symptoms due to the shorter days. It is estimated that 6 in 100 people are affected by SAD. Though, children can get affected it is more common for older teens and young adults.
Signs and Symptoms of SAD:
The symptoms may vary from mild to severe. The milder ones don’t interfere with day to day activities, while the severe symptoms can hamper the daily activities. The symptoms of SAD are very similar to those of depression, but these only last for a few months and occur at a specific time of the year. Some of the symptoms are:
- Change in mood as irritability, sadness, over sensitive to criticism and getting upset more easily than ever
- Low energy by being fatigued and tired all the time
- Lack of interest in doing the tasks which the child used to enjoy
- Change in sleep pattern by sleeping more than usual in the mornings
- Changes in eating habits like craving for comfort foods (food high in carbohydrates), like sugars and bread
- Have trouble in concentrating on the usual tasks and spends less time with friends
What Causes SAD:
As per the experts, SAD depression is caused due to the brain’s response to the reduced hours of daylight. The theory revolves around sunlight affecting the production of the hormones which regulate the sleep cycle, energy levels, and mood changes.
The 2 chemicals of the body which play a major role in SAD are:
- Serotonin: Its production is directly proportional to the exposure of the sun. Low levels of serotonin often lead to depression, thus it is important to maintain the levels in order to keep depression at bay.
- Melatonin: This chemical is associated with sleep and its production is more when the days are short or dark. An increase in melatonin leads to lethargy and sleepiness.
Treatment of SAD:
Treatment includes the following:
- Increase the light exposure of the child
- Encourage your child to step out of the house and indulge in physical activities
- Spend quality time with your child
- Help your child with their homework
- Encourage healthy eating pattern with lots of vegetables and fruits
- Try to stick to a regular bedtime
- Last but not the least be patient with your child
To know more about SAD see the following video: