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The change of the seasons brings about beautiful changes in the weather and landscape. Some people thrive during this time, but for others, their mental health changes for the worse. Part of the Furman lifestyle is to maintain (and thrive) off this busy lifestyle, but it is not for everyone. The “Furman Advantage” should not be to force your body to a point where it is shutting down. Education and awareness are good initial steps to help students know how to identify SAD correctly. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more well known as Seasonal Depression, is defined as a type of major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern. SAD is especially common in college students since their routine is often sporadic. Those who have hectic schedules with classes, clubs, sports, volunteering, or a campus job are more likely to struggle with SAD. The type of lifestyle college students have makes it more difficult for the body to get the vitamin D needed to resist the inevitable symptoms of SAD. Symptoms are easy to confuse with the feeling of being a college student. Still, they include constant fatigue, weight gain, cravings, symptoms similar to major depression, feeling drained and lack of interest in the activities you once enjoyed, changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates, sleeping too much, increase in fidgeting, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making stressful decisions. 

When you feel like this, the best thing to do is create any type of regularity you can. Jan Hall recommends the following strategies to deal with SAD better: 

  1.  Maintain a regular bedtime. Consistent late nights make depression more likely and lack of sleep can negatively impact academic success. 
  2. Create some sort of balance and routine

This means cutting down on things that are making your schedule more stressful than it

needs to be. You don’t have to be involved in everything!

  1. Prioritize emotional and physical well-being. Many of us use winter as a time to stay indoors and warm. Hibernating inside, however, is often a considerable factor contributing to SAD. It is important to make an effort to exercise, socialize, and spend time in the sunlight. Take care of your body even when your mind isn’t feeling right. 
  2. Spend time in the sunshine. Only twenty minutes to an hour of light exposure each day can have a major effect in treating seasonal depression.

Seasonal depression may affect your season, but it doesn’t have to define it. 

Mamie is a junior Political Science and Religion double major at Furman. Outside of HerCampus, she is also a member of the Chi Omega sorority, Army ROTC, and writes for the Paladin Newspaper. Following college, she will commission as an Officer in the US Army. Her interests are hiking, cooking, writing, working out, social justice, and spending quality time with her people.
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