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Seasonal Affective Disorder in Kids and How You Can Help

 

 

 

A boy looking depressed under overcast skies

The colder months have now arrived. The summer sun is finally packing up, removing its hat for another year and we’re awaiting the arrival of the dreaded frost. Unfortunately, as the seasons change, so too can some people’s moods. Sunshine gives us a dose of vitamin D that we can often struggle to receive from food alone, which helps healthy cell and bone growth. It also increases our vitality and energy levels, which research shows can help us be more resilient to physical illnesses. 
 
A Background Into Seasonal Affective Disorder
 
Medical experts have stated that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that is linked with late autumn and winter months — thought to be associated with the lack of light. It’s said to occur when your body’s internal clock and your brain and body’s chemicals all change. 
 
Research has suggested that one in 15 people are affected by SAD. The most common age group to suffer from SAD is those between 18 and 30 years old, with females the most likely to be affected, but it can begin at any age and to any gender. 
 
The Symptoms
 
If you experience the following, then you should seek help from your local GP:
  • Being lethargic
  • Sleep issues – normally oversleeping and struggling to stay awake
  • Depression
  • Overeating – particularly carbohydrates and sweet foods 
  • Social issues, including withdrawal from social situations
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increased anxiety
  • A persistent low mood
  • Weakened immune system
  • Lack of interest in activities which were previously enjoyable

The Impact it Can Have on Children 
 
If you think your child may be suffering with SAD, one noticeable sign is lack of engagement. Remember, your child may not be able to realise they have this condition or tell you how they are feeling. 
 
Children that do have the symptoms should see a doctor. This way, they will be able to thoroughly check your child over and rule out any other possible reasons for the symptoms they are experiencing. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that the condition should receive the same treatment as other types of depression. 
 
Understand that this is a brain chemistry issue and is not associated with behaviour. It’s important you are supportive and non-judgmental to aid recovery. Taking a little more time with them so they feel loved as well as being patient with them is also important to the treatment, as is eating healthy and maintaining a regular sleep pattern. By looking after their lifestyle habits, you will cut their stress levels which will help to ease the pressure faced from SAD. 
 
Light therapy is often used to treat adults with SAD but can have harsh side effects for children. Instead, try to ensure that your children are outside in natural sunlight when possible. If your child is put on antidepressants, make sure you are vigilant for any changes in behaviour and keep in regular contact with your doctor. 
 
There other ways to help too. Research in the area of vitamin D3 and depression is rapidly growing, with some studies highlighting a potential link between the two. Vitamin D is vital for general health including immunity, muscle function and bone density.
 
Try to monitor your children’s temperament as much as you can. Remember, as is the case for many issues, with SAD in kids, if in doubt check it out. 
 
This article was provided by Pharma Nord, Omega 7 experts.
 
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