When people think of depression they usually imagine an adult. However depression and anxiety can affect children as well. One type of depression that affects both adults and children is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is sometimes not recognized right away because the depression comes and goes according to the seasons. Some external factors that can trigger S.A.D are cold and dark weather or the chaos of holidays or the loneliness from not seeing friends because of school break. Clinical factors can also play a role in this specific type of depression.
The specific cause of S.A.D is still unknown. However Mayo Clinic has stated that the sudden decrease of sunlight in Fall and Winter could be a possible cause. The decrease in daylight can also cause a decrease in serotonin levels. Serotonin is nicknamed the “Happy Hormone” this chemical in the brain can affect many aspects of a persons life. Including the following.
If a child is acting different for example having a decreased appetite, not sleeping well, sleeping too much, acting grumpy or having new troubles in school these could be signs of S.A.D. If your child or children have any of these troubles especially during Fall or Winter it might be time to speak with a pediatrician.
The right hand hormone to serotonin is melatonin. This hormone is nicknamed the “Sleep Hormone”. The production of this hormone is signaled by darkness. With it becoming darker earlier in Fall and Winter the body might produce too much melatonin making a child feel sluggish. This sudden increase in melatonin can also cause a person’s moods to change.
People who have symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are advised to spend time in the sunlight. Daylight can increase the production of serotonin which can possibly decrease the affects of S.A.D.
Again if you notice your child has depression during certain seasons speak with your pediatrician so your son or daughter can receive the best care.