CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every year more than one million children and adolescents and about 5 percent of adults in the U.S. experience the winter blues also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD is a type of depression related to the change in seasons.
″The kind of things you will see are sadness lack of interest in things you use to like and sometimes worthlessness and even suicide,” Dr. Margaret Cocharan said.
Cochran says the symptoms of the disorder tend to come and go at about the same time every year. She says people who have it it’s like a heavy cloud that just won’t go away.
Cochran says dealing with the disorder during the pandemic when people are already limited in social interaction and are experiencing more anxiety and change could cause symptoms to worsen.
”With SAD, because of its pervasiveness, just having a good day will not make it go away. However it will make it less painful, and right now everything is pretty tough,” Chochran said.
She says causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder could be because of lower serotonin levels due to a lack of natural sunlight during the fall and winter months and a decreases in the amount of Vitamin D the body is producing.
Cochran says Vitamin D supplements, exercise and a good diet and in some cases medication can help.
Light therapy with a full spectrum light book 20 to 30 minutes a day is one of the best ways to treat winter depression. Talking to your child and asking questions is key, and if you see your child struggling it’s a good time to see a therapist.
”Rule number one you can’t cheer up a depressed person. Sometimes well meaning people will say,’Buck it up, it’s fine. You will be alright. It’s not a big deal. Why are you said all of the time?” Cochran said.
The good news she says when it comes to Seasonal Affective Disorder is that along with light therapy when spring returns and the days are longer, those who deal with the disorder usually experience relief and a return to a normal mood and energy level.