What Is Summer SAD, and Does Your Child Have It?

You know how, come the short, cold, dark winter days, you sometimes start to feel a little sad, a little bored, and just generally dissatisfied and unproductive? There’s actually a name for it, and it’s a pretty common condition – seasonal affective disorder, otherwise (conveniently) known as SAD. 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

It’s a very common condition, and you’d be surprised how many people experience SAD during the cold months of the year. It’s perfectly understandable, given the lack of sunlight and few hours of daylight, the drop in temperatures, the empty, eerie streets, and endless layers of warm clothes to keep you from freezing. You end up having enough of the cold and dark, and can’t wait for summer to arrive so you can open the windows, roam the streets, let sunshine in, and embrace all the fun summer activities out there. 

Summer is, for most people, the most enjoyable season of all – however, it’s not the case for most people. Say you’ve noticed your child moping around, being a lot more lazy and unmotivated than usual, and refusing to go outside and enjoy the beautiful, long summer days. Before you start worrying, you should know that there is also such a thing as reverse seasonal affective disorder, and your child might be suffering from it. 

What is Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder and what are the signs?

Reverse SAD is just what it sounds like – it’s when someone experiences the effects of seasonal affective disorder in summer, instead of winter. You might be surprised to know that there are people out there who suffer from this condition during the warmer months of the year, and this condition can affect children and teens, as well. 

So, what are some of the signs of reverse seasonal affective disorder? Below are the most common signs of SAD that you might notice in your child during the summer days:

  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Sleepiness and lack of energy 
  • Unexplained sadness or anxiety
  • Lack of motivation and productivity
  • Isolation from friends, staying indoors 
  • Avoidance of sunshine and outdoor activities
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Lack of appetite or increased appetite 

Seasonal affective disorder affects everyone differently; some people experience a mild case of SAD, while others can become debilitated and even depressed. It’s important to pay attention to your child and notice any shifts in behavior that might tell you they’re suffering from reverse SAD. Also make sure that there isn’t an actual health problem or some kind of trouble at home or at school causing these symptoms. 

And before you start to worry and wonder why your child is different, know that reverse SAD is a very common affliction, in both children and adults. It’s a perfectly normal reaction; just like some people absolutely love summer, others prefer fall or winter, and that’s when they become more productive, more energized, and more optimistic.

How can you help a child suffering from reverse SAD?

First and foremost, it’s important to keep calm and not panic if you notice your child is behaving strangely during the hot summer months, when normally you might expect them to be outside, playing and having fun with friends, and enjoying all that summer has to offer. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your child; they might simply be suffering from reverse seasonal affective disorder, which is completely normal. 

Don’t scold your child or make them feel like they’re doing something wrong. Instead, talk to them and try to understand what they’re feeling. Ask them why they’re feeling down and why they don’t feel like going outside in the sun. Allow your child the opportunity to open up – they might feel bad for not enjoying the warm weather, but feel ashamed to admit it for fear that they might be judged or misunderstood. Let them know that feeling this way is perfectly normal, and that they don’t have anything to be ashamed of. 

If your child doesn’t want to open up to you and you can’t figure out if they’re suffering from SAD or something more serious, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Feel free to contact the Da Vinci Collaborative team, and get an expert opinion. 

How to help your child overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder in summer

If you’ve established that your child is struggling with seasonal affective disorder, offer alternatives for them to spend their time and make the best of the summer days, despite this affliction. If they don’t want to go outside, provide entertainment at home. Organize cookouts and let them participate, go for a movie marathon, provide books and magazines for them to read, and encourage other indoor activities to help them relax. 

Playing video games is also an option, but be careful to not allow it to become addictive and cause your child to isolate even more. Try to plan a family hike on the weekends, somewhere cooler, where your child can relax and unwind and get some much-needed exercise. Encourage them to exercise, whether it’s simply dancing around the house or doing some stretching – it will help them sleep better. The long exposure to daylight during summer can trigger sleep issues, while the heat might make it difficult to get proper rest. 

The most important thing is to show your child that there are other ways to enjoy summer, that might not all involve being outside in the scorching sun. Also make sure that your child is aware that people are different, and explain to them that it’s perfectly normal to prefer cooler weather. Don’t force them to do anything that they don’t want – instead offer alternatives and hobbies to keep them occupied and entertained. 

It’s also important to make sure your child has a healthy diet and gets good sleep. Use air conditioning if you can, to maintain a cool temperature – this will decrease anxiety and heat stress and ease your child into sleep. Close the blinds during the day and make the best of the early morning and late evening hours to go outside, take walks, and get some exercise in.

Seasonal affective disorder can also lead to the much-dreaded FOMO, or fear of missing out, which many people experience during summer, when it seems like everyone else is having the time of their lives. Talk to your child and reassure them that things aren’t always what they seem, and that it’s perfectly fine to ‘miss out’ on certain activities and prefer doing something else. 

If you suspect your child might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder and are not sure how you can help, feel free to reach out to us at Da Vinci Collaborative, and we’ll figure it out together!

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