You’ve probably heard the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) before, but what exactly does it mean? SAD is a form of clinical depression with an onset that typically occurs within the winter months. It is said that the lack of sunlight typically seen in the colder months leads to depressive episodes. According to an article by Darren Cotterell, MBBCH, MSc, MRCPsych, SAD is generally believed to affect women more than men and the age of onset is usually between 20-30 years. 
Symptoms of SAD, much like depression, can include:
Emphasis on a healthy lifestyle.
While it is important to take care of your body by exercising and eating healthy year round, if you suffer from SAD try to put in an extra effort to maintain your diet during the winter months. Combating the feelings of depression with nutrient rich foods to provide your body the energy it needs is extremely beneficial.
Don’t shut yourself in.
It can often be difficult to find time in the short winter days to get outside- especially if you work traditional office hours, try to make a goal to go for a short walk on your lunch break. On days off, make sure you get out of the house at least once a day for a walk, coffee, or physical activity.
Surround yourself with loved ones.
Depression is an illness that can often lead to withdrawing from friends and family. If you begin to feel the symptoms coming on, reach out to your loved ones and speak with them about what is happening. Make it a priority to spend quality time with your loved one and allow them to help you through your rough time.
Seek professional help.
If you feel as though you are unable to combat your symptoms of SAD on your own, seeking the help of a mental health professional is highly recommended. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and/or light therapy are often recommended for individuals with SAD. CBT helps patients identify and incorporate enjoyable activities into their life, and explore and change negative thoughts and emotions associated with winter. In a 2016 Psych Central article by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. it is noted that light therapy and CBT are both effective ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder; however, CBT for SAD may be more effective than light therapy. A one-year follow up showed that participants treated with CBT were doing much better than individuals who were treated with light therapy alone. 
 Cotterell , Darren MBBCH, MSc, MRCPsych
Pathogenesis and Management of Seasonal Affective Disorder
 American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association- Seasonal Affective Disorder
 Tartakovsky, Margarita M.S.
Are You SAD This Winter? Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
You may have noticed many popular fast food restaurants have replaced their once-tactile toy filled play areas with video game arcades, that is, if they haven’t taken them out altogether. While the world is no doubt becoming more and more technology-dependent, it’s potentially dangerous for such young children to have excess exposure to screen time.
Studies show that on average, infants 18 months and younger should spend no time on screens at all (other than video calls with relatives). While there is a time and a place for technology for infants, too much exposure to screens at such young ages can be detrimental to their developing skills, such as:
It is recommended that children aged 1-2 only watch the occasional educational shows. It is also recommended that children this age watch any shows while being accompanied by a parent so they can discuss what they saw afterwards. Too much time in front of screens in toddlers can result in:
It’s recommended that children aged 2-5 spend no more than 60 minutes watching quality educational videos per day. Too much screen time for children in this age range can cause:
Children and adolescents aged 5-18 should be spending no more than 2 hours of recreational time in front of screens per day. Studies have shown that more time than this can lead to problems such as:
Technology, must like most things in life are good in small doses; however, when used in excess have some potentially dangerous results. Parents should make sure they are monitoring not just the time that children spend on electronic devices, but also the content that is being viewed by their children. Content should be age appropriate and (preferably) educational content to help them further develop their growing minds.
We’ve all experienced it - our child comes home after a day at school and has an absolute meltdown for seemingly no reason. After speaking with the school, they have been doing well - no issues with their peers or adults, yet when they come home they seem devastated. It could be that your child is struggling with mental fatigue.
We all have times in our lives when it all seems like “too much”. Between dealing with the stress of getting everyone out the door in the morning, meeting deadlines at work, picking up groceries, making dinner, getting the kids to their sports, all the while projecting a cool, calm and collected attitude; we get stressed and overwhelmed. A good cry is sometimes all we can do to make ourselves feel better. This is exactly what can happen to kids after going back to school- especially in the first few months.
How can we help?
1-Offer them your support/ comfort
Similar to when children are upset for any other reason, let them know that you’re there for them. Tell them that you’re ready to listen when they’re ready to talk. Depending on the child, this may or may not help them feel more at ease.
We’ve all been hangry before- it’s not fun. Be prepared to welcome them home with a nutritious snack. If they are old enough to be home alone before you get home from work, have one prepared for them to grab easily when they get in the door. Try to stick to fruits and vegetables or other unprocessed foods.
3-Give them space
For some children, hovering over them or trying to make them talk about things will only make it worse. Give the child some distance to relax and unwind after school. For some children, this means 30 minutes of quiet time in their room or outside, others it’s just sitting quietly in the kitchen as you prepare dinner. If the child frequently has a tough time with the school-to-home transition, consider creating a spot in the house for them that is specifically for them to go during calm down time.
4-Don’t blame anyone
Like other mental health issues, this is no one’s fault. Everyone processes stress differently- and no one should be punished for it. Getting angry at your child (or yourself) isn’t going to solve anything, in fact, it will more than likely stress the child out further.
If behavior like this continues for more than a couple of weeks, I would suggest bringing the child to see a therapist to rule out other potential mental health issues. The Kids Help Phone is also a great resource for youth who are struggling; you can find out more information here https://kidshelpphone.ca/
Dr. Diana Garcia
Dr. Diana Garcia has over 20 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has provided psychological and counseling services in Ontario, and the states of Pennsylvania, and Florida