Seasonal Affective Disorder and How Sunlight Affects Teens
Seasonal Affective Disorder and How Sunlight Affects Teens

Seasonal Affective Disorder and How Sunlight Affects Teens

"When we don’t get the sunlight we need, chemically, our bodies go through changes that, in turn, negatively affect the way we feel."

As we fall back into daylight savings time, one thing is certain: We See far less sunlight and Feel less happy.

As we all know: In the spring and summer months, we have far more light during the days when compared to the colder, shorter months of fall and winter. During these sun-filled days, outside and physical activity seem to be going on everywhere you look where most people seem to be more upbeat.

However, as summer turns into fall, things typically seem to change drastically as the weather begins to get colder and the sunlight becomes scarce.

Each year, throughout this annual, seasonal transition, millions of teens, as well as adults, suffer from increased feelings of sadness and a lack of energy in the fall and winter months. Consequently, during this time, depression tends to become more intensified in those who are prone to it.

Some people call this seasonal period the winter blues, however, the clinical term is "seasonal mood disorder" or "seasonal affective disorder" (SAD). According to behavioral experts, whichever way you look at it, though, we all face dealing with these feelings in one way or another.

Nevertheless, a noticeable portion of our population tends to be more affected than others.

The technical term used by physicians to describe this depression, SAD, 'is a form of depression that’s triggered by decreases in sunlight and goes it goes away when the sunlight returns.'

Or to put it even more simply by experts, 'when we don’t get the sunlight we need, chemically, our bodies go through changes that, in turn, negatively affect the way we feel.'

How Does SAD Work?

  • It sends our body's biological or internal clock into a tizzy
  • Affects melatonin levels, which can decrease the quality and quantity of sleep
  • Decreasing brain chemicals, namely serotonin that affect our mood.

Facts About Mental Health Problems Among Teens

  • 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Mental health issues are a common challenge faced by families. You’re not alone.
  • 50% of all mental health disorders are detectable by age 14. Mental health disorders show up early.
  • Nearly 75% of all anxiety disorders, depression, and impulse control disorders were developed during adolescence.
  • 90% of adolescents who commit suicide have a mental health condition. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers.
  • 20-30% of teens have at least one major depressive episode before reaching adulthood.

Ways to help boost mood

Since you aren’t getting the sunlight you need, one of the best things to do during the fall and winter helps counteract this chemical change by spending time outdoors. Going on walks, hikes, and spending time out in the sun can be very healthy changes to help battle fatigue during the fall and winter months.

Studies have shown artificial light therapy significantly improves SAD symptoms after just one-to-two weeks. The science behind it points to rebalancing internal clocks and melatonin and serotonin levels.

If you believe a loved one may be suffering from SAD, speak with someone who can help.

Teens who suffer from depression need to be aware of the changes that happen to them during the time changes. What a lack of sunlight does to them needs to be addressed to help them handle their condition.

Moreover, according to today's behavioral experts, spending time outdoors is critical for those suffering from depression.

If you believe, you might be suffering from SAD contact your doctor. Symptoms of SAD can include sadness, irritability, depressed mood, decreased energy levels, difficulty concentrating or sleeping and increased appetite that leads to weight gain. 

Effective Ways To Help Your Teen

Here are some effective strategies for helping your child with their mental health issues. If this is overwhelming for you as a parent, know that it is okay to reach out for professional guidance.

  • Make it a priority to establish open and honest communication. Remember to ask them questions. Actively listening helps to build a bridge between you and your child. Avoid judgments.
  • Show love and understanding.
  • Reassure them that they are not facing these issues by themselves. Make them aware of your own youthful missteps, or share with them the struggles faced by other adolescents. It helps to know they’re not alone in the struggle.
  • Don’t panic or blow things out of proportion. The middle road of balance and moderation takes time and patience to discover.
  • Have a conversation with the other adults in your teen’s life, such as teachers and coaches. Having a different perspective is useful when piecing together the whole picture.
  • Connect with an adolescent treatment facility that specializes in addressing mental health.

Facing the challenge of mental health directly is a positive first step. In the case that your child’s mental health issues are too great to face on your own, consider enlisting the help of qualified mental health professionals. Family First Adolescent Services has a proven track record of helping adolescents rise above their mental health conditions. Our aim is to help your child move toward healing so they are free to live a fulfilling life.

For immediate professional assistance, please call us today at (833) 241-7746.