Youth at higher risk of seasonal affective disorder, study reveals

Young people are more at risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) than adults, a new study has revealed.

The finding, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Affective Disorders, shows how variations in sunlight and temperature can have an impact on our mental health.

People diagnosed with SAD usually report poorer mental wellbeing over the winter months, particularly when the days are shorter and the body’s internal body clock is disrupted.

According to the paper, some 53,000 respondents were asked to complete medical questionnaires over a two year period to analyse health trends between seasons.

The participants were split into two groups. One with individuals aged 24 and under, and the other with participants aged 25 and above.

Within the youth group, all evaluated symptoms demonstrated “significant seasonal trends”, while the adult group only demonstrated “distinct results”.

According to the study, only adult sleep habits and appetites were associated with significant season variation. This is compared to young people who reported higher seasonal variation in “feeling bad about oneself”, “feeling like a failure or let down”, and “trouble concentrating”.

Commenting on the findings, the researchers said: “Some clinicians have doubts about the seriousness or even existence of seasonal depression.

“Our results demonstrate that youth may have increased vulnerability to secondary symptoms, potentially making them more susceptible to developing SAD.”

They added: “The strong seasonal patterns of self-esteem and concentration seen in youth are an important public health concern since they coincide with the school year and could affect academic abilities and social relationships.”

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