Helping Your Teens through Seasonal Depression

Over the years, some men and women notice an emotional pattern in themselves that’s related to the seasons. They realize that they tend to get depressed in the fall and winter seasons. And your teen might notice this in themselves too. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summertime sadness, or seasonal depression.

SAD is a form of depression that is related to the amount of sunlight a person receives. As you might expect, there are more people who experience SAD in northern and very southern parts of the world, such as in Alaska. However, even in places like Florida and California people experience SAD.

Understanding SAD

If you suspect seasonal depression in your teen, look for the following symptoms:

  • difficulty waking up in the morning,
  • nausea,
  • tendency to oversleep and over eat,
  • lack of energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty completing tasks
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities
  • decreased sex drive

Over a few months, the lack of light and the increased feelings of depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness and a general sadness about life. Because SAD is a form of depression, you may want to get treatment for your teen as quickly as possible. There are many cases where SAD leads to an overall depression that can extend into the rest of the year. And untreated depression can get worse over time. In extreme cases, a teen can begin to experience suicidal thoughts, which can lead to attempts and even the loss of life.

Treatment for SAD

Just like any psychological illness, it’s important to get assessed with a mental health professional, which can lead to getting the right treatment. However, typically, treatments for seasonal affective disorder include:

Light Therapy – This is a form therapy in which a person exposes themselves to a box that contains fluorescent lamps during the time of the year that most affects them. If a teen were experiencing SAD, he or she might experience light therapy between 30 minutes to 2 hours per day.

Medication – Just as with depression that lasts all year round, medication can be prescribed to help lift one’s mood and help change the depressive thoughts.

Ionized Air Administration – Negative air ionization therapy includes the use of air ionisers. This is a form of therapy for SAD and other forms of depression that does not require medication, which is why it has gained some popularity.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Because all forms of depression has to do with the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs we possess, one way to help heal depression is to examine those thoughts and feelings. In fact, this form of therapy helps a person identify harmful thoughts and assists them in changing those thoughts.

Supplements – A teen with SAD might also take supplements in order to help change his or her mood. For instance, some experts believe that a person with SAD isn’t receiving enough Vitamin D. The intake of this supplement can be useful in managing the symptoms of SAD. However, some research indicates otherwise.

Physical Exercise – Physical activity has recently been shown to not only relieve someone of depressive symptoms, but it can also prevent depression. If your teen is showing signs of sadness and low mood, encourage him or her to exercise.

The above list includes various ways to manage seasonal affective disorder. If you notice symptoms of SAD in your teen, contact a mental health professional before pursuing any of the above suggestions.