What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  




     Home  >  Articles  > News & Tips: Health
by NYMetroParents Staff

Related: seasonal affective disorder in children, how seasonal affective disoder affects children, SAD in kids, symptoms of SAD in kids, how to help kids with SAD,

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is more common in teens and young adults, but it sometimes affects children. Here, Dr. Jennifer Collins explains the symptoms of SAD in kids, how to know if your child has SAD, and what to do if you think your child has SAD.


sad boyWinter months are filled with celebratory sounds, sights, and flavors. But for some, the cold temperatures and shorter days aren’t such a joyous time and can bring about symptoms of sadness and irritability. This can be especially difficult in children and you might wonder: Is this a phase or something more serious?    


What is seasonal affective disorder?

Symptoms of depression that surface during the winter months are referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). About six out of 100 people develop SAD. It is more common in teens and young adults than in young children.


How do I know if my child has SAD?

It can be difficult for children to express feelings of sadness or a loss of pleasure in activities they normally enjoy. Signs to look for are:


- Lack of concentration

- Poor performance in school

- Sadness

- Irritability

- Changes in sleep pattern

- Cravings for simple carbohydrates and/or overeating

- Loss of interest in activities he/she once enjoyed

- Changes in his/her desire to socialize with friends


The change may come on gradually, as the days grow shorter, and progressively improve with the arrival of spring and longer exposure to sunshine.


What causes SAD?

While we don’t understand the exact cause of SAD, researchers suspect that the decreased exposure to sunshine changes important levels of brain chemicals like melatonin and serotonin, which can affect a person’s mood.


What should I do if I suspect my child has SAD?

In mild cases, it can be as simple as spending more time outside. Regular exercise outdoors—even if it’s overcast—can increase your child’s exposure to sunshine and will help your child feel more like himself. Check out these articles for some fun local ideas:


Where to go skiing and snowboarding

Where to find outdoor skating rinks

Places to go sledding in Manhattan

Search the NYMetroParents calendar for outdoor activities near you


Speak with your physician if the symptoms are more severe or you are unsure if your child has SAD. In some cases, your doctor may recommend phototherapy with lamps. In more serve cases, medication may be necessary.

If your child suffers from SAD, being proactive as the days get shorter can help symptoms from getting too severe. Here are some preventative measures to take:


- Keep a regular routine of eating healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and try to avoid simple carbohydrates and sugary snacks.

- Provide gentle guidance during homework and goal-directed activities.

- Spend time outside each day, to exercise and to get adequate exposure to sunshine.

- Maintain normal sleep routines.


Whether your child’s symptoms are mild or severe, take them seriously and be supportive. And remember that your pediatrician is ready to help with guidance and advice if necessary.


Jennifer Collins, M.D., is an assistant professor of allergy and immunology at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in Manhattan and the chief medical spokesperson for Cold-EEZE.


Get Your FREE Indoor Activity eGuide!

More News & Tips: Health Articles

How to Make Halloween a Healthier Holiday in Your Family
Ask the Expert: When to Keep Your Child Home Sick from School
Join the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program to Fight Cavities and Support a Good Cause
Ask the Expert: What is an Enterovirus and How Can I Protect My Child?
What You Need to Know About Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local News & Tips: Health Sponsors

Bartlett Tree Experts
2240 Saw Mill River Rd
Elmsford, NY
Bartlett Tree Experts was founded in 1907 by Franc...

Art League of Long Island
107 E. Deer Park Road
Dix Hills, NY
Year round classes offered in watercolor, oil pain...

Fit for Golf-Set for Life Summer Golf School
3545 Jerome Ave
Bronx, NY
718-655-9164 EXT. 105

Early Childhood Center (The)
250 Bryant Ave.
White Plains, NY
The Early Childhood Center is a nonsectarian, not-...

Vienna Music
41-08 Bell Blvd., 2nd Floor
Bayside, NY
Vienna Music strives to provide a stage for all mu...
See Our News & Tips: Health Directory

local zones


Nassau cont.


Suffolk cont.


Westchester cont.



Rockland cont.


Queens cont.


Brooklyn cont.


Copyright 2014 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE