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The Seasons, They are a Changin’

by, Jennifer Moore, Psy.D. & Zachary Stern, Psy.D.

As the “honeymoon period” of school comes to a close, parents often begin to express an increase in concerns for their children. These concerns can manifest in a variety of ways, occurring in school, home, and social settings. Here are some of the most common concerns that we hear clients bring up at this time of year:

1) My child seems much more irritable lately, and argues with us about everything!
2) Homework time is becoming such a burden—the more I try to help, the worse it gets!
3) My teenager doesn’t seem motivated or engaged, and I don’t know what’s changed…
4) She’s really not acting like herself lately…she seems down all the time.
5) I feel worried about my son’s relationships with his peers; is so much drama normal?

Changes that occur in our lives can often be very disruptive. Adjusting to new circumstances or changes in our environment can often affect how we think, what we feel, and the way we behave. Perhaps most notably, these effects have been found to occur around major life events, such as moving, divorce, or a death in the family. Nevertheless, these ‘bigger’ life events are not the only things that can cause disruption. Even small, ostensibly natural changes can have a large impact on our functioning as well.

One important change to pay attention to is the change in season and weather, and subsequent shorter hours of daylight. Research reveals that roughly 6 percent of the population suffers from a specific pattern of depression that coincides with seasonal change—termed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Common symptoms include: irritability, loss of interest and low energy, sleep and/or appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, and less socialization. These symptoms tend to heighten with the progression of fall, and decrease with the onset of spring as the days become longer. While the disorder is most commonly diagnosed in later years, there is evidence to suggest that SAD impacts younger children and adolescents as well.

Check out some of these helpful resources to learn more about how SAD may impact kids and teens, and options for treatment:

NYU-Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:
Seasonal Affective Disorder

KidsHealth from Nemours:
Seasonal Affective Disorder

If these types of changes may be impacting someone in your family, give us a call.

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