Back To School: For Children With Seasonal Affective Disorder, Heading Back To Class Is A Challenge

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Parents everywhere may be stressing out over checking off their back to school lists and coaxing their children back into the scholastic swing of things, but for those with children from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, the approaching fall term presents other challenges.

SAD is a type of depression that flares up for sufferers as the seasons change, specifically as sunlight wanes. Only about six percent of adults and teenager are diagnosed with the disorder, and an even smaller percentage are noted in children. Yet, SAD takes a severe tole on kids as their peers prepare to concentrate on learning new subjects and cracking the books.

Children with SAD can often be mistake for “slacking off” according to Dr. Marcia Norton, as symptons most often include oversleeping, overeating, and with an inability to complete tasks or exhibit motivation. Many children who suffer from SAD simply cannot concentrate on material because of their depression. Like adults with SAD, kids with the disorder often tend to isolate themselves and refrain from engaging in extracurricular activities.

That being said, if you’ve always noted that your kid tends be a bit of a hermit with a penchant for sleeping in and a distaste for homework, there’s no need to schedule that doctor’s appointment just yet. These symptoms indicate a departure from the child’s normal self and work ethic. Nevertheless, if your child’s lackadasical attitude towards accomplishing homework and getting up in the morning isn’t SAD, it could very well be something else. Only a doctor can diagnose the symptoms that you as a parent deem out of the ordinary, so suspicions should be assuaged with a doctor visit.

Sun exposure can help so encouragement to play outside when possible should be exercised. If not, purchasing a lamp that mimics sunlight with a full spectrum bulb is considered advisable. Diet has also been noted to play a prominent factor, so it’s best to avoid simple carbohydrates and sugars as well as sodas.

Sleeping routines are also deemed vital, as children with SAD should go to bed and wake up at a specific time everyday — even on the weekends. Lastly, enlisting the help of your child’s teachers will also help so that he or she doesn’t feel like they have something to hide in the classroom. Informing instructors about the reasons for your kid’s lack of motivation should hopefully establish an alley in the classroom. SAD will not resolve itself overnight, but with dedicated parents and teachers willing to understand the child’s disorder, they are more likely to overcome it.