I have always suffered from what is commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) In simple terms it is a form of depression that is basically believed to be brought on by a lack of sunlight, and a corresponding lack of serotonin. In itself, it is a difficult thing to deal with, but the seeming lack of acknowledgment of its existence from far too many healthcare professionals makes it at time downright maddening.
But this isn’t about me. I know I have it, I have my coping mechanisms, and when they don’t work, I now have people that I can go to that can help. The reason I bring this up is more about the kids. When I was young, S.A.D. wasn’t even a diagnosis that would come into play (at the time it was strictly considered a condition for places much closer to the Artic regions where sunlight becomes even more scarce or downright non-existant in the winter). But just as bad, it is still overlooked often today.
As adults, we have more of a tendency to “know” when we are out of sorts and when we just don’t feel quite right. Not necessarily always, but we do tend to know when something is at least out of the ordinary. Kids do not have this mechanism (or perhaps experience) to recognize this or at least how to verbalize it.
- Changes in mood during winter months (admittedly, this can be a difficult one to recognize in teenagers, as their moods change often)
- Lack of enjoyment in activities that the child normally likes doing
- A lack of energy or unusual tiredness or fatigue
- Changes in eating habits (often associated with lots of simple carbs, and sugary “comfort foods”)
- Difficulty in concentrating (Does your child tend to do better in the beginning and end of the year, but not so much so in the mid-year?)
- Less time socializing
This isn’t a checklist. A child suffering from SAD doesn’t need to display all of these symptoms, nor do they need to obvious. The changes can just as easily be subtle (depending of course on how severe the case is). It may not simply be a case of “the blues.”