As the days become shorter and it becomes increasingly difficult to get outside, it is normal to experience feelings of sadness, irritability, and fatigue.
According to Children’s Minnesota, “seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears at the same time each year, typically as winter approaches. A person with SAD may start to show symptoms when daylight hours are shorter, but when spring returns and the days lengthen, they will experience relief from their symptoms.”
SAD disorder is more likely to impact those with a family history of depression. Much like seasonal depression in adults, children are likely to experience low mood, fatigue, irritability, trouble concentrating in school, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
So, if you notice that your child is showing symptoms of SAD, how can you help? The following strategies can help in reducing the symptoms of SAD.
4 Tips for Reducing Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Children
In addition to making sure your child spends time outside during the daytime hours, an artificial lightbox (like these) can be used indoors as well. Having your child play with toys or look at books near the light source for twenty to thirty minutes helps to trick the body into thinking it is receiving the same rays of sunshine that light up our world for more hours in the warmer weather months.
Eat a balanced diet
Sugar, caffeine, etc. only exacerbate symptoms of depression. Fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats are well known for improving mood regulation.
Prioritize sleep and rest
Sleep deprivation has been proven in extensive research studies to hinder the brain in regulating emotions. Simply put, it is more difficult to manage your emotions when you are tired.
Build emotional safety at home
When a child feels emotionally safe to express thoughts and feelings that he or she may be wrestling with, the “hard stuff” becomes less overwhelming. For more information on how to build emotional intelligence in our kids and foster quality conversation, check out my articles:
More Resources on SAD and Low Mood
If you found this article helpful, check out these other resources on seasonal affective disorder and low mood:
Here at the Lily Jo Project, we know all too well how difficult parenting can be. Tackling issues like childhood depression can be very daunting, especially if you are struggling with your own mental health issues.
We run a community on Facebook designed to be a safe place for parents and those who work with children to seek out support in dealing with those tough childhood issues. I moderate the group, and we would love to have you!
I moderate the group, and you can request to join here – looking forward to seeing you there!
Kamleiter, K. (2020). Seasonal affective disorder: What parents need to know about SAD. Retrieved from https://www.childrensmn.org/2020/01/16/seasonal-affective-disorder-what-parents-need-to-know-about-sad/
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is a care coordinator for a local mental health agency in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com) – her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.