What is Seasonal Depression and How to Deal With It

Seasonal Depression, formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (ironically enough), is caused by the transformation between seasons, specifically the change from summer to winter. While the name of this disorder makes it sound unique, it is actually extremely common. Most believe this depression is directly caused by the lack of sunlight a person receives as the winter progresses but it can be caused by many reasons:

Your Biological Clock

The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.

Melatonin Levels

The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns. Unbalanced sleep can lead to change in moods and productivity. In addition, the change in productivity can lead to changes in weight, energy and interest in activity.

Serotonin Levels

Serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, might play a role in the sudden switch of moods. Reduced sunlight, in combination with the sudden change in temperature, can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.

Although it can be a real struggle to tackle seasonal depression, we know some ways to do it:

Surround Yourself with Friends


Since I have been on a college campus, I honestly cannot remember the last time I have had to deal with an aggressive amount of depression. The reason being that I have been able to surround myself with good friends I have made here on campus: Friends that want to see me smile and laugh. Those are the type of friends you want to have when combating SAD. Go see those friends anytime you can!

Improve Self-care and Self-image

When we are depressed we often lose confidence and hope in ourselves, both emotionally and physically. So if you are able, treat yourself to a bubble bath or a shopping spree. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and cute! If you are someone who wears makeup, maybe wear a little extra on days you need to regain that confidence. For me, looking good can mean feeling good, too!

Embrace Cozy Season!

Remember when you were younger and you would run inside after playing in the freshly fallen snow? Your mom would already have that delicious cup of hot chocolate with little marshmallows floating on top to warm you right up! Treating yourself properly through seasonal depression is the same thing. Although the clouds have moved in and the snow is paving the ground, it doesn't mean winter is all cold and no cozy! Get into PJ’s, get some hot cocoa, and watch a Christmas movie. After all, the season is approaching!


Although it may be the last thing on your mind because finals are coming up, exercise is a really good way to improve your mental health, even if it's just some cardio for half an hour a day!

Connect with Mental Health Resources

For those who need another outlet, refer to your campus or local resources for counseling. Talking through your emotions to an impartial party can help you resolve all the tension within.


P.S. Ithaca College Students: sunlight isn’t completely gone… For all of you Ithaca College students who are experiencing seasonal depression, the Hammond Health Center has rooms with sun lamps for those who need extra sunlight over the winter! Just go in and ask about it.