Seasonal Affective Disorder & Teens: What Parents Can Look for &How to Help
As a teen counselor, it is not uncommon this time of year to see an increase in teens and young adult struggling with depression. Depression counseling for teens helps many teens learn to overcome symptoms of depression.
Yet this time of year can bring a unique version of teen depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs to a person during a specific time of year. Some teens can struggle with SAD during the fall and winter seasons.
SAD is prevalent during these seasons due to the shorter days and lack of sunlight. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a neurological response to seasonal changes in sunlight.
If your teen is dealing with SAD, and not another form of depression, the depression will dissipate once the daylight hours grow longer.
In the meantime, it is important that your teen receive the appropriate support to help them through their teen depression. If your teen does not typically struggle with depression at other times of year, it might be easy to overlook or even dismiss their SAD.
It is important not to downplay the seriousness of SAD. It should be handled like any other serious mental health struggle. The National Institute of Mental Health is a good resource to learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Symptoms Parents Can Look for in Teen Depression or SAD
It can be challenging at times for parents to determine whether what they are seeing in their teen is simply a natural teen phase that they will work through or if it may be a more serious challenge.
Below are some things parents can look for in their teens. Many of these symptoms if your teen is experiencing SAD may begin as early as August or September. The symptoms may progressively intensify the further they get into the winter months.
Changes in Mood
SAD can negatively impact your teen’s emotional state. SAD can result in a depression that entails sadness and irritability.
SAD can result in feelings of hopelessness, discouragement and even worthlessness. Teens may cry more than usual.
Like other forms of depression, SAD can fuel more negative thinking than usual. Teens may start to engage in unhealthy self-talk. A teenager struggling with SAD can also begin thinking about the worst-case scenario.
Lack of Enjoyment
Teens struggling with SAD can lose interest in things they usually are excited about. This loss of motivation can result in social isolation from friends and family.
SAD can cause teens to feel zapped. With less energy and motivation, they can stay in their rooms or struggle to get out of bed.
Struggles with Sleep
Teens battling SAD can either sleep too much or have a difficult time falling asleep at night. If you notices changes in your teen’s sleeping patterns, they may be struggling with SAD.
Changes in Eating
It is common for teens struggling with SAD to gain weight. This is due to an increased craving for sugary and comforting foods high in carbohydrates.
Coupled with a loss of energy and motivation (e.g., little to no exercise) it’s easy for teens to gain weight during the fall and winter months.
Like other types of depression, SAD can make it a challenge for your teen to concentrate at school. Many teens with SAD experience a drop in their grades during the last part of their first school semester.
How Parents Can Help Teens Struggling with Depression
There are approaches to SAD that have been shown to be effective in helping to alleviate symptoms of SAD. Below are a few of those approaches.
Encourage Outdoor Light Exposure
Since SAD is directly connected to light exposure, encouraging your teen to spend more time outside during day light hours is very important.
Go for a walk around the neighborhood with your teen after school. Getting them to exercise in the sunlight can really help their SAD.
Light therapy uses a special box that is placed on a table or desk. The light is designed to replicate outdoor light.
Sitting near the light for 45 minutes a day can reduce the severity of SAD. Like any medical treatment, light therapy should only be considered after first talking to your doctor.
It is also advised to follow the instructions that come with the light box.
Depression Counseling for Teens
Depending on the severity of the SAD, it might be a good idea to encourage your teen to see a professional teen therapist.
A teen depression therapist who specializes in teen therapy can help your teen express their negative thoughts and explore healthier thinking patterns.
Depression counseling for teens can also help your teen feel connected to a caring person as they struggle with feelings of worthlessness and isolation.
A teen therapist can work with a teen and their family to develop a plan to mitigate the effects of SAD.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Depression Counseling for Teens in Katy, Tx & Houston
Seasonal Affective Disorder can rob an otherwise happy, motivated, and driven teen of these things. There are strategies that can be implemented in the home and at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have 50+ years of combined experience in therapy for teen depression.
If your teen is struggling with symptoms of depression and it's interfering with their life, our teen counselors can help. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have a variety of teen therapists specializing in teen depression to select from.
If you are ready to start the path of healing teen depression, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Meet with one of our caring and experienced therapists
Take the first step in meeting with a teen counselor who can help you get your happiness, drive, and motivation back!
Other Teen Therapy, Family Counseling, & Young Adult Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide other services in addition to therapy for gifted students. We have therapists who also specialize in Marriage counseling and couple's therapy.
It can be a stressful road for any relationship in working to help a teen who is struggling with depression. Our marriage counselors and couple's therapists can help.
We also provide other counseling and therapeutic services for teens, young adults, & families at our Katy, Tx location:
Board Certified Neurofeedback
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in teen therapy and young adult counseling. He helps gifted students build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.
Quique views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.