Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Norman E. Rosenthal | Go to book overview

FIVE

SAD in Children
and Adolescents

Some time ago, a middle-aged woman walked into the NIMH Clinical Center and asked me if I knew of any articles on SAD in children. I said I did indeed have an article and wondered why she was interested in the subject. “My son asked me to stop by and find out more about the condition,” she said. “He thinks he has it.” It emerged that her twelve-year-old son had seen a television program on the subject and had identified with the patients.

I was reminded of Jason, another smart twelve-year-old, who had seen both of his parents suffering from SAD and being treated with light therapy. That winter he approached his father, saying that he thought he was also suffering from SAD, since he had noticed that he was eating more candies. His father dismissed this observation with a psychological explanation—the boy was clearly identifying with his parents, and what child doesn't eat too much candy? But Jason, normally a fine student, began to have increasing difficulties with his schoolwork. One day his father, finding him dozing over his homework, asked him again what the problem was. “Dad, I think it's the winter,” Jason replied. And he was right. Light therapy has since reversed the problem to a large degree.

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