What They Don't Tell You About Seasonal Depression

When the weather outside is frightful and spring break is right around the corner, it seems like all you can think about are a quick vacation, warm beaches, sunshine, and most importantly, those sweet, sweet seven days off from school.

For some of us, however, there’s something a little more sinister about the winter months. It’s called seasonal depression.

Seasonal depression, also known as a seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is estimated to affect about 10 million Americans between the ages of eighteen to thirty. Symptoms commonly associated with “winter blues” include (but are not limited to) fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, decreased physical activity, weight gain, and feelings of hopelessness or sadness.

Although the initial cause is unknown, there is evidence that suggests seasonal depression may be triggered by a lack of melatonin in the body. Another theory suggests that the changing of seasons disrupts the body’s production of serotonin. Melatonin and serotonin are both hormones in the body that help to regulate mood and sleep.

So, what to do?

The most surefire way to combat seasonal depression is to make a plan. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Keep track of your energy level and mood in a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a great way to get any negative energy out of your system and elevate your mood in the process!

  • If journaling is not your thing, you can always try exercising. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to naturally boost your mood and increase energy levels. Your body will thank you!

  • Stick to a regular schedule. Seasonal depression makes it hard to fall asleep and get up in the morning, so maintaining as regular a routine as possible will help you to catch up on sleep and feel less fatigued throughout the day.

  • Brainstorm things that you enjoy, such as reading a book or catching up over a coffee with a roommate or friend, and make a list of them. When you aren’t feeling your best, you can refer to the list and pick something off it to quickly elevate your mood and brighten your day!

  • Remember to stay positive and proactive. It’s a lot easier to crawl back into bed on a day when the snow is piling up outside than to get up and go to class, but you’ll feel a lot better if you at least try. Something is always better than nothing.

Seasonal depression is common but treatable. With a little extra TLC, you’ll be waving “bye-bye!” to those winter blahs before spring break!