It may be difficult for parents to decipher what is bothering their teen, especially during the holiday season. If left unchecked, small problems can evolve into serious disorders like depression. In order to adequately endure these extreme emotional lows, teens, their families and professionals must understand their specific symptoms and attend to their needs.
Learning about seasonal sadness
First and foremost, issues that affect adolescents can arise any time of the year. This can include major life events within the family or interpersonal problems that can manipulate one’s self-worth. In addition to these, there are holiday-specific situations that can negatively impact a young mind. For instance, family members may be unavailable to provide support in a teen’s time of need due to being preoccupied preparing for various holiday events.
According to D’Arcy Lyness, Ph.D., the behavioral health editor of “KidsHealth”, another prime factor of adolescent sadness during the winter months is an aptly named condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This form of depression occurs at the same time each year and is accompanied by feelings of fatigue. Many experts suggest that SAD is caused by the brain’s response to decreased daylight exposure, as sunlight is responsible for the body’s production of various important chemicals, especially melatonin and serotonin.
“These two chemicals help regulate a person’s sleep-wake cycles, energy, and mood. Shorter days and longer hours of darkness in fall and winter may cause increased levels of melatonin and decreased levels of serotonin, creating the biological conditions for depression,” explained Lyness.
Tending to and mending teen depression
Depression during the holidays can be treated in a number of ways. One of the most commonly used remedies is prescription antidepressants, which can stabilize the imbalance of mood altering chemicals. Pharmaceuticals are often paired with therapy for increased effectiveness. In-depth counseling sessions address the negative thoughts underlying a teen’s feelings of sadness and work to alter them with guidance and positive reinforcement. For SAD specifically, increased exposure to light and phototherapy have also been shown to improve symptoms over the course of a few days or weeks.
Until an adolescent is given professional care, loved ones can help manage depressive symptoms on their own as well. Especially during winter break, treatment may need to be delayed until normal health services are accessible again. Until then, family members can do the following:
Overall, SAD and other types of depression during the holiday season can be a challenging hurdle for teens to overcome, even with a supportive family by their side. Sovereign Health is there for adolescents struggling with mental disorders, substance abuse or multiple afflictions 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. If you or your adolescent is experiencing intense sensations of sadness, contact a representative online or by phone today.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer