Raising awareness about kids and seasonal depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder is more than just the blues. And it doesn’t strike just grown-ups.

Some 10 million Americans struggle with seasonal depression each year, according to the University of Utah Health Care website.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, occurs in late fall and winter, in decreased daylight.

One demographic that may be overlooked is children.

The Dayton Children’s Hospital’s website provides information for parents who suspect their youngsters may have seasonal depression:

“The problems caused by SAD—such as lower-than-usual grades or less energy for socializing—can affect self-esteem and leave people feeling disappointed, isolated, and lonely, especially if they don’t realize what’s causing the changes in energy, mood, and motivation.”

The website goes on to explain:

“Although it can affect kids and young teens, SAD is most common in older teens and young adults, usually starting in the early twenties. Like other forms of depression, females are about four times more likely than males to develop SAD, as are people with relatives who have had depression.”

Parents should help with homework, overlook irritability, and establish sleep routines.

Health care providers who treat adults with SAD recommend artificial light, reduced carbohydrates, and increased exercise to better manage the symptoms.

There’s no definitive cause for this disorder, but Dayton Children’s Hospital says that researchers focus on sunlight’s role in the brain’s production of hormones that help regulate sleep-wake cycles, energy, and mood.

And then there are heart attacks.

Researchers say that losing one hour of sleep by switching to daylight saving time has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks, according to a study of Michigan hospitals.

Admissions to the hospital increased 25 percent the Monday following the spring time change. The same study found that heart attack risk fell 21 percent later in the year when clocks were set back one hour.

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