Uh, hi. Well I'm Ashley and I'm 13 years old. I have a pretty regular life, I mean there all all the friend dramas, and first world problems that we have, but I guess a regular life seems awful for me. All the time I feel worthless and hopeless, I have incredible self-loathing and stress. Last year it was very bad and I noticed that as soon as it turned march I felt better. So I started doing research and found a type of depression called SAD. This year I decided to see if I felt this was again, and sure enough as soon as the calendar hit September I started to get all these feelings again. Now I am usually a very calm person, but everything just sort of took me off guard and I handled it very badly. I started to cut myself and I now find myself addicted to it. I have destroyed all of my friendships by being stupid, and even if I still sit with them at lunch and stuff I feel the tension surrounding me in the air. I don't sleep at night and find myself going without sleep for quite a while. I would love to go to a school counsellor and talk or go to a doctor and maybe get diagnosed with something, but I don't want my parents knowing about any of this as I don't trust them to handle it well. What should I do? And do you think I have SAD  or  am I just making things up?

Hi Ashley,

You are very bright doing the research on SAD, and also waiting a year to test if by September again you feel depressed.

I also have SAD and that is why I started researching it years ago.  I give workhops on SAD to University groups, to Psychologists, medical doctors, students in psychology and counseling, etc.

So, yes, I do think you have SAD.  You can show your parents this email to your parents.  If there are people in your family, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, etc
have suffered with depression, anxiety, and believe it or not - alcoholism or other addictions.  Addictions have depression and anxiety also.  So, you can have anxiety and depression without addictions.  So, not to confuse you, if someone in your family had an addiction, remember that they also have depression and anxiety.  So, you could have picked up the depression part.  Ask your parents if others in your family have had a hard time in the winter months.

If you travel where the sun is, during the winter, your SAD will go away.  If you have some rainy, cloudy days in the summer, you will feel the depression.

There is a book entitled:  Winter Blues by Dr. Norman Rosenthal.  He came to the US, from South Africa, and became depressed in the winter months. He tells his story in the book; he also has researched SAD and tells how light therapy works.

This is the most common treatment for people suffering with SAD:
      Find a doctor that treats SAD:  Usually all Psychiatrist treat SAD; a few family doctors treat it.
      Get a light therapy unit (Read Dr. Rosenthal's book what to buy, how to use it)
       Some of the antidepressants that have helped young people may be Zoloft; Cymbalta,
         or the Psychiatrist may know others.

Psychiatrist know more about the brain chemistry and medicines than a family doctor.  They also know  when treating young people with antidepressants, they need to go on lower doses and not an adult dose.

I am so glad to hear at age 13 you like to do research!  That is fantastic.  The computer,
to me, is wonderful for research.

When you get a chance, look up:  Dr. Norman Rosenthal, SAD light therapy, melatonin an anything else that pops up during your readings.

Hope this helps you and I think your parents will get you to the doctor (hopefully a Psychiatrist because he knows brain chemistry more).

Take care,

Dr. Pat  


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Patricia A. Schafer, Ph.D.


I specialize in various forms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and also stress, phobias, life changes, grief, women's issues, men's issues, etc. My licenses are: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor -Supervisor(LPCC-S) and Licensed Professional Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) in the state of Ohio and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).


12 years experience. I counsel substance abusers, families of alcoholics/drug addictions, and codependency issues. I also specialize in social phobia; stress; anxieties; women`s issues; grief and adjustments to life changes. Some therapeutic techniques used are: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy)REBT (Rational Emotive), SFT (Solution Focused) and 12-Step, etc. If you live in the Cleveland area, you can contact me at my office for an appointment at: 440-349-4521. I am on various insurance panels and EAP programs.


Experiences of prejudice among individuals in African American and Caucasian Interracial Marriages: A Q-methodological Study (Doctoral Dissertation - December 2008; Wilsnack and Beckman's book: Alcohol Problems in Women (1984). Alcohol use and marital violence: Female and Male Differences in reactions to alcohol(pages 260-279.

Ph.D. In counseling MA In Counseling BS In Psychology

Awards and Honors
Previous president of NCOCA (North Central Ohio Counseling Association); previous president of Chi Sigma Iota. Two years VISTA volunteer on Navajo reservation in Inscription House and Shonto.

Past/Present Clients
Do to HIPAA privacy laws, I do not release any info about my client.

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