As the clocks turned back with daylight saving time ending, you may notice a shift in your kid’s moods or attitudes. While this may seem like typical teenage behavior, it is crucial to remain vigilant for any signs of serious mental health concerns.
The “winter blues” is a common experience for many as the days shorten and the temperatures get colder. This is typically a short-term feeling of sadness as our bodies adjust to the changing season. Living in Wisconsin adds an additional layer to this, as the winter months seem to drag on and pose unique challenges to our well-being. It is crucial to recognize that even kids and teens specifically can experience the same mental health impacts that adults may have.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. Typically, SAD is most common during the winter months when the days get darker earlier and people spend more time indoors.
Seasonal depression can be more challenging to detect in teens, given their occasional moody disposition. But, it is essential to determine whether there may be a deeper, underlying cause for that moodiness or irritability. It’s important to check in on teens to also help them make that connection of a shift in their behavior with something like decreased daylight or lack of activity.
If you begin to find your child displaying any of these symptoms, talk to your child’s pediatrician:
The good news is, there are treatments for seasonal depression that are well-researched and very effective. Some common treatments and therapeutic approaches include:
As with most issues, communication if key. Have open conversations with your child and allow them to express their feelings. Helping them understand the connection between the seasonal changes and their feelings can provide them some comfort and control. During these conversations, follow these guidelines:
Do not get frustrated with your child. Mood changes often present as irritability or changes in behavior, but it’s important to be supportive even in the face of worsening grades or a more negative attitude.
Figure out driving forces behind these changes. Have a positive and normative outlook on therapy. This will impact the way your child views it as well.
The Craig Yabuki Mental Health Walk-In Clinic on the Children’s Wisconsin Milwaukee campus provides same-day care for children and teens (ages 5-18) experiencing urgent mental health issues. The clinic is designed to offer an alternative to traditional urgent care and emergency room services.
If your child is experiencing an emergency of any kind, please dial 911 or go straight to your closest emergency room.