A reader asks:
My 12-year-old son was diagnosed with SAD when he was about eight. He has suffered since he was six, if not younger. I have been looking for information on the long-term prognosis for children with SAD. Do you know of any studies done? Is it the same as for other types of depressive illness?
Unfortunately, there have been no long-term studies of childhood SAD. We would guess that once it emerges, the seasonal pattern remains, and one does not “grow out of it.” Some children and teens have used bright light therapy, dawn simulation therapy, or both with benefit. Managing compliance with bright light therapy has been a problem. Some children — in our experience, pubescent boys — have shown pronounced side effects of flushing, rapid heartbeat and agitation upon initiation of bright light therapy. Therefore, if tried, a doctor’s supervision and monitoring are important.