Have you noticed any behavioral or mood changes in your teen during the winter months? Maybe they are in bed longer than usual or not going out as much with friends. Season Affective Disorder is a seasonal depression that impacts two key chemicals in the brain, melatonin, and serotonin.

During the winter months, the days are shorter which means there is less exposure to sunlight. For your teen, this can cause their levels of serotonin and melatonin to be dysregulated. Simply meaning that the melatonin can be higher than normal and the serotonin lower.

Melatonin is connected to sleep and serotonin to mood and energy.

Your teenager may be in bed for an extended time because of the high levels of melatonin and their behavior of skipping out on social activities can be linked to the low levels of serotonin. Overall, the behaviors you are noticing in your teen connect to seasonal depression.

So, to keep things clear during the winter months your teen may have less exposure to sunlight which means dysregulated levels of melatonin and serotonin. Keep in mind that the brain needs a healthy amount of both chemicals. Healthy amounts of the chemicals are what support your teen to achieve a healthy sleep and wake cycle, energy during the day, an increase in happiness, and a stable mood.

3 key ways that parents can support their teen with the winter blues.

1. Get outside together.

The winter blues is not solely selective to teens. It can impact parents too. To support your teen, you can as a family partake in outdoor activities. Go for a walk together, throw the frisbee around, or take the dog for a walk.

2. Practice self-compassion.

Your teen is feeling a bit off from their typical normal. The experience that comes with seasonal depression can be awful. This is exactly why it’s vital to show your teen how to practice self-compassion.

You can do this by sharing a kindness journal with your teen. This is a simple practice that starts with a blank journal. Write daily words of kindness to each other. This will chip away at the negative inner voice.

3. Schedule social gatherings.

Make a strong commitment to planning one to two social-related activities during the month. You can host a get-together at home or plan to do a board game night at a friend’s house. Do your best to keep the activity relatable to your teen. You can do this by asking your teen the type of board game they want to play or a friend’s house to visit.

Each of the strategies aims to give parents direction in supporting their teen with the winter blues. Continue to be a leader in your child’s life.

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