What's Going Around: Seasonal sadness

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Fall is coming to a chilly finale and the winter solstice is up next on December 21. The change in seasons is not just about the weather forecast for many people but also about their health.

Mood changes, sleep problems and appetite issues can be symptoms a condition that affects millions and reappears every year at the same time: during fall and winter.

It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder or "SAD" and it is triggered by lower levels of sunlight during fall and winter, which can change the biological clock.

The symptoms occur in a very cyclical pattern and include low energy, trouble with sleeping, eating and concentrating.

Dr. Mike Patrick, who is an Emergency Medicine expert at Nationwide Children's Hospital said SAD affects people of all ages and for kids, parents may think they're slacking off in school.

Dr. Patrick said parents should consider whether Seasonal Affective Disorder is an issue

"You can start to think it's a problem with them just not trying hard enough. Some kids will get themselves sort of into trouble," he said.

The doctor said parents need to be watchful for the symptoms to reoccur at the same time year after year.

Sunlight exposure helps people with SAD. Ohio isn't known for lots of sunny skies during winter but "Dr. Mike" said it's best to take advantage of sunlight whenever possible-- and stay active.

He also suggested keeping a window open and for school children with the disorder a seat near the window as opposed to tucked in a corner.

If you think SAD is a problem, your pediatrician is your best resource for diagnosis and treatment.