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How Do Changing Seasons Affect Teens with Mood Disorders?

seasonal affective disorder

How Do Changing Seasons Affect Teens with Mood Disorders?

Practitioners of holistic medicine claim that most “diseases” are born during the changing of the seasons. As the temperature, humidity, and length of days start changing as a new season begins, teens with mood disorders may notice shifts in their energy and stress levels. Some teens that experience signs of depression may actually be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a recurring seasonal pattern that begins and ends around the same time every year. 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Most people have a favorite season, where the weather coincides with their favorite activities, holidays, or traditions. It is natural for people’s behavior to change depending on the weather, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is about more than just the winter blues. SAD is often misdiagnosed as depression, as teens must meet the complete criteria for major depression that corresponds to specific seasons for a minimum of two years. If your teen is showing several signs of major depression you should seek professional help to determine the root of the issue.

Signs of Major Depression include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Low energy
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

The Seasonal Breakdown

Seasonal affective disorder impacts individuals differently- some experience more mild symptoms than others. Different symptoms are associated with different seasons. While the winter is the most common season where the disorder is onset, summer seasonal affective disorder is possible too. Below are the distinctive symptoms that appear in these two seasons.

Winter Pattern of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Teens:

  • Hypersomnia
  • Low energy
  • Weight gain
  • Craving of carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (desire to “hibernate”)

Summer Pattern of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Teens:

  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Episodes of violent behavior

Ways to Differentiate Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression

  • How long has the person been experiencing symptoms?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • How do they affect daily activities? How much time do they spend outside?
  • Have there been any changes in sleeping or eating patterns?
  • Can the person identify a shift in thoughts and behaviors during different seasons?

Continuous assessments lead to accurate diagnoses. ViewPoint Center uses a variety of diagnostic tools, including psychiatric evaluations, psychosocial assessments, health and physical assessments, and psychological and neurological evaluations to help teens and their families get the answers they need.

ViewPoint Center Can Help 

ViewPoint Center is a short-term residential Crisis and Assessment Center for adolescents ages 12 to 17 that helps stabilize and assess teenagers struggling with depression and other mental health issues. Before ViewPoint, families are often frustrated and lost. Varying doctors and therapists with a range of advice, diagnoses, and plans leaves parents and children unsure of where to turn. At ViewPoint, we centralize all of the different diagnoses, and create a comprehensive holistic report to help your teen and your family to get back on track and transition to the next stage of their recovery.

For more information about mood disorders, like Seasonal Affective Disorder, in teens, call 855-290-9682. We can help your family today!