Happy Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month! All kids deserve kind, safe, welcoming places to grow.

Winters are tough – help for your child with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Beat the Gray Blues

Winter or “shoulder seasons” can feel gloomy. If you notice your family struggling with short days and cold temps, here are a few fun ideas you can do together to bring joy to seasonal change. 

  1. Create a cozy movie night. Cuddle up with pillows and blankets, light a candle (or battery operated one) and settle in for a family movie. 
  2. Play outside. Make a snowman or fort, toss snowballs. Or simply get outside no matter the weather. Extra points if you get outside when the sun is shining. 
  3. Take an imaginary vacation. Pick a warm place you would visit and watch videos on youtube. Dress for a day at the beach, or cook a dish from your ideal location. 
  4. Learn a new hobby. Time spent inside can be a good time to learn a skill. Together pick something you want to learn to do, like drawing, baking or puzzles.

The dark and dreary days of Winter can be a challenge for all of us.

While a down day every once in a while is normal, when this becomes a pattern, especially in the winter months, parents should be on the lookout for other signs of seasonal depression. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year and causes difficulty in daily functioning. Typically SAD occurs during the winter months, when there is less sunlight and people spend less time outdoors. 

Signs of SAD:

  • Mood changes: feeling more irritable, sensitive or depressed
  • Not enjoying previous interests or friends
  • Low energy levels
  • Sleeping more or less than normal 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Increased or decrease appetite
  • Self-critical comments
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts

Tips for helping a child with SAD: 

If you believe your child is struggling with seasonal depression here are a few things you can do at home that can help:

  1. Spend time outdoors. Bundle up and get outside, especially in the sunlight. 
  2. Establishing a consistent routine. Having a regular sleep and wake time can help with circadian rhythms. 
  3. Exercise. Get your body moving.
    • Go for a walk. 
    • Have a dance party. 
    • Do yoga. 
    • Create an obstacle course in your home.
  4. Try light therapy. Sitting near a special light each morning can help increase a positive mood. 
  5. Seek professional help. If you believe your child is depressed, it is important to seek professional help.
    • Call your county’s crisis line, 988, or 911 if your child is suicidal.