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Seasonal Affective Disorder and ADHD

My son is 8yrs old and is dx with many things - autism, ADHD, Sensory, Anxiety, and stomach issues.  He is on meds and does great.  But we have been able to document a big change in him during Jan - April the last 4 years.  He does not show depression but aggression.  When he is in this stage no one recognizes him and the look in his eyes change.  He went from doing great in a mainstream classroom to a self-contained room in a week this past January.  The doctors mentioned to me about Seasonal Affective Disorder and for me it does make sense.  But just wondering if anyone else has dealt with this.  If so, did anything help?

Replies

It makes sense to me too. There are a few articles on ADDitudeMag.com that address seasonal affective disorder that you might find useful:

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1015.html
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/4967.html

Depression can present through anger and aggression, not just sadness and lethargy. Talk to his doctor about this and make a plan before winter hits.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 08, 2014 at 4:39pm

You should check his level of vitamin D levels in the winter. In the warmer months, we get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure. But that doesn’t happen in the winter and not enough D can cause a lot of side effects including depression in adults. Depression looks different in kids than it does adults. It might be that your child is depressed, but manifesting symptoms in a different way. I would definitely get his levels checked and then get him on a supplement right away. Your doctor will need to monitor it as too much D can be very harmful even fatal, but its certainly worth a try.

Also, how much physical activity is he able to get during the winter? I am not saying that’s his entire problem, but a little more physical activity during the winter months could help. We have an Xbox connect where your body is the controller, so you have to move a lot. Last winter was the worst in 28 years. I am thankful my son had something he could do in the house. It made a real difference. We have also found a local pool since then. That helps too. 

I hope my suggestions are helpful to you.

Sue H in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Aug 09, 2014 at 9:15am

Ironic timing that I see this thread - I’m currently reading about genes and behavior and just finished a section about circadian rhythms, and how our bio clocks are oscillated by the production and depletion of proteins which can be reset by changes in light. Our internal clocks affect many, many aspects of our physiology, which in turn affects behavior. So yeah, basically, SAD is very real.

You could look into light therapy. Circadian rhythms can only be resent by light and melatonin, and the safety of long term melatonin use is still being debated (I never give it to my kids).

Anyway, light therapy involves regular exposure to a light box during the times of the year when the daylight hours are reduced. You could look into it and see if you think it might help.

Also, in response to SueH - yes… look at vitamin D. One of the first things our pediatrician suggested for DS10 when he was diagnosed with ADHD at 7 was an extra Vit D supplement, and he has a very sunny, cheerful temperament year round (our winters here are very dark, too). Increased physical activity also can help simply because it could get your son out in the daylight more.

Posted by OopsForgotAgain on Aug 09, 2014 at 4:30pm

Hello,

I have heard of the seasonal disorder but never got the detail of the disorder of children with ADHD. I have a son who is ADHD, he is on medication during school at times. I have decrease is providing the meds per his Doctor, he has done well in school the past 2 years, but at home he is defiant and oppositional at times with me. I can see some change when he has structure at home, but during the summer I tend to get off the structure and the defiant returns.

Posted by eladawnl on Aug 11, 2014 at 5:32am

eladawnl - it’s good to hear that structure works for your son smile  It does wonders for mine as well.

I remember reading somewhere that kids feel safer when they know we’re in control (ie their world feels more stable when they think their parents can handle challenges) and this really rings true with the element of structure. It’s something they can count on, and use to scaffold their day.

I know summer holidays are a time to relax and let the routines go, but at least you know you can “restructure” if your son needs it smile

Posted by OopsForgotAgain on Aug 12, 2014 at 5:20pm

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The opinions expressed on ADDConnect are solely those of the user, who may or may not have medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of ADDConnect or ADDitude magazine. For more information, see our terms and conditions.