Here's how seasonal change affects teens
When preteens' and teens' hormones start kicking in, it's more than just sassy attitudes. These budding bodies go through hormonal changes that impact sleep, moods, and even their vulnerability to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Understanding these shifts is essential for parents, educators, and healthcare pros to support teens during these crucial years.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Hormones
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, typically in the colder, darker months. While the exact cause of SAD is not entirely understood, the lack of sunlight in winter months is known to disrupt the body's internal clock, reduce serotonin, and trigger hormonal imbalances.
For preteens and teens whose hormones are already in flux, any additional hormonal disruptions can dramatically change mood swings and depressive symptoms.
What can we do?
--> Ensure preteens and teens get enough natural light, especially in the morning.
--> Take a break and walk outside.
--> Keep blinds open.
--> Talk to parents/guardians if you notice changes.
--> Inform parents of the signs of SAD.
--> Educate students on signs to watch for and encourage them to communicate their needs.
The Sleep Conundrum
As kids hit puberty, their internal clocks go haywire thanks to pesky hormones. The sleep hormone melatonin decides to party late into the night, even later than adults. This leads to many teens struggling to fall asleep before 11 p.m.
Want to help?
--> Think about pushing school start times for teens.
--> Tell parents to let them snooze in on weekends.
--> Cut sleepy students some slack in morning classes.
--> Look out for sleep-deprived signs and chat with parents, school nurses, and students about healthy sleep tips.
Hormones like estrogen and testosterone contribute to both physical and brain development, especially during the preteen and teen years. As these hormones flood the adolescent body, they contribute to significant emotional and psychological changes.
The prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and mood regulation, is still developing in teenagers, heavily contributing to fluctuating hormone levels that bring on mood swings and eye-rolls!
What can we do?
--> Encourage proper hydration and self-care.
--> Grant students the opportunity to “try again” when they’ve snapped or have a giant mood shift.
--> Ask what you can do to help.
--> Give them ways to discuss the stress and outlets for release.
--> Simply understand what’s happening and empathize!
By understanding the effect of hormonal changes and responding with empathy and support, educators can help adolescents navigate these challenging years with greater ease and resilience. So, don’t take that eye-roll personally!