Seasonal affective disorder in teens is not something that just affects adults. In fact, it can be just as devastating to teenagers as it can be to adults, especially because most teenagers spend just as much time (if not more), inside, in artificial light, during the winter months. Without ample exposure to natural light, the body produces too much melatonin, making a person feel depressed and sluggish. But how can you tell if your teen is suffering from seasonal affective disorder? Here are some of the symptoms and what you can do to alleviate this issue:
- Sleepiness – One of the most common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder in teens is needing to sleep more often than during the spring, summer, and fall.
- Gaining weight – Most animals gain weight before the winter, in order to stay warmer, but humans do not follow this trend. If your teen gains weight as the cold, darker months set in, it may be indicative of a larger problem.
- Irritability and concentration problems – As with most forms of depression, SAD can seriously affect a person’s ability to function properly. It can block their ability to concentrate even on simple tasks and can also cause a person to become very irritable.
- Increased depression – If your teen is already dealing with depression, it may become more prominent during the darker months if they also have SAD.
Seasonal affective disorder in teens is a real problem, but is also something that parents can help their teenagers work through. How seasonal affective disorder in teens is treated depends largely on what other mental health issues the teen might be dealing with. Many doctors simply recommend a regimen of sunlight—having a teen get up earlier and take a walk in the sunlight before school.
This is not the only treatment and for many teens with busy schedules, it may not even be an option. Season affective disorder is teens is also treated with light therapy. The teen starts by sitting in front of a bright light for a few minutes each day, building up to hour long sessions. Many people experience almost instantaneous relief with light therapy.
Seasonal affective disorder in teens is often treated in conjunction with depression or bipolar disorder. In some cases, adjusting a medication or providing an additional medication to deal with the additional symptoms can help a teen.
Trails Carolina can help
Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 10-17, can help your teen struggling with depression, anxiety, and substance use issues, find success and happiness. For more information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Graham Shannonhouse has been actively involved in the wilderness therapy field for nearly three decades. After receiving her degree in 1991, Shannonhouse spent 10 years working with a premiere wilderness-based therapeutic program in south-central Idaho. During her tenure, she served three years as a hands-on Field Instructor, three years as Field Supervisor, and the remaining time as Wilderness Program Director. During this period she developed, managed, and served as counselor for the country’s first wilderness program specifically focused on pre- teens ages 10 to 13
Graham returned to the east in 2002 to serve as Executive Director for a therapeutic wilderness program based in North Carolina, successfully growing it to one of the most respected companies in the industry. In 2008, she resigned her position to open Trails Carolina. Having an intimate working knowledge of the roots of wilderness therapy, Graham has brought her experience and wisdom to her position as Partner and Executive Director with the goal of integrating the true family work that must be done to insure lasting success.