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Your Teenager Could Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that affects teenagers at the same time every year. For the majority of the United States population, the most common time of year for the onset of SAD is fall or early winter. Though some teenagers are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder in the spring or summer, it is not nearly as common during these seasons.

Symptoms of SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by feelings of moodiness and a lack of energy, but there are a variety of additional symptoms that teenagers may experience.

For most teenagers, the symptoms of both fall/winter and spring/summer SAD start out being fairly mild and become increasingly more severe as the season wears on.

Symptoms typical in teenagers affected by this condition in fall/winter:

  • Weight gain
  • Oversleeping
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Symptoms typical of teenagers affected by this condition in spring/summer:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Easily agitated

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Unfortunately, the cause of SAD is still unknown. Like other mental health conditions, however, researchers believe that age, genetics, and your body’s unique chemical makeup all contribute to the development of this disorder.

For some teenagers, the reduced amounts of sunlight each day in winter disrupt their internal clock. Your internal clock tells you when you should be awake and when you should be sleeping, so daylight savings time tends to wreak havoc with many teenagers’ normal sleep patterns.

Reduced sunlight can also cause a reduction in the amount of serotonin that is produced in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that affects your mood, and it is believed that reduced levels may lead to depression.

If you have a family history of Seasonal Affective Disorder, particularly among your parents, grandparents, or siblings, your teenager may stand a greater chance of developing this condition. In addition, females tend to suffer from SAD much more frequently than males. For males who do have SAD, however, their symptoms are generally more severe than they are in females.

Natural Treatments

There are some mind/body therapies, supplements, and herbal remedies that have been successfully used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Of course, natural treatments are not always healthy for everyone, so it is always best to check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new treatment regimen.

If your teenager suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, talk to your doctor about the following natural treatments to see if they might be a good option for them.

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. SAMe
  3. St. John’s Wort
  4. Melatonin
  5. Yoga
  6. Acupuncture
  7. Massage therapy
  8. Meditation

When trying to manage teenagers Seasonal Affective Disorder, it is important that they practice stress management in a healthy manner. If you are stressed out, you may find yourself overeating, having dangerous or unhealthy thoughts, or suffering from depression, so try to take control of the stress in your life before it overwhelms you and your teenager.

Remember, it is also a healthy practice for your teenager to try to make themselves be social, particularly when they are feeling down and they would rather isolate themselves. Being around other teenagers they know and like can help to boost their mood and lift their spirits.

By Jamell Andrews

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