It’s Not Just the Winter Blues

Fall is here and Winter is coming. For a while, this is GREAT news - sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, cute mittens and snow days to stay in and watch Netflix until the sun rises. But for someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this isn’t such great news. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression which recurs seasonally. It can happen during the fall and winter seasons, and less commonly during the spring and summer seasons.

 

                                                                                                                     Courtesy to Tenor.com

    If you experience these symptoms, you might be experiencing SAD:

                                                                                                                   Courtesy of MayoClinic

    SAD is sometimes perceived as a “lighter” depression, which is not true. It’s just a more specific kind of depression. The change in season is what causes the depression to recur yearly. Symptoms can get in the way of daily life and cause disruption. While the specific cause is still unknown, a contributor to SAD is the shortened days in winter. The lack of light throughout the day inhibits the triggering of chemicals in the brain which helps regulate mood. Another effect of lack of light is altering of the circadian rhythm (sleep schedule) which in turn affects your appetite. There are ways to alter your daily lifestyle to try and combat SAD.

  • Expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day. It may feel like you want to lock yourself in your room and curl up into a tiny ball. Fight that urge and “let there be light”. Go for a walk or open the blinds.

  • Exercise. I know it’s easier said than done, but get yourself to the gym. Being active helps relieve stress and anxiety. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in your body. Kill two birds with one stone by going outside for a run - get sunlight and exercise!

    Everyone has different experiences when it comes to disorders like SAD. For one, I used to live in a place where the only season was summer all year long. Despite the fact that there were no seasons, I resonated with the idea that depression came in and out of the year. I went through waves where I thought everything was fine and I didn’t need anyone’s help. But then I’d spiral into the rabbit hole and sometimes it’d feel like I could never come back out. These phases would occur during school holidays, when things would slow down - as they do during the fall and winter seasons. My life was so hectic with my crazy schedule trying to balance 408 clubs and once everything halted I didn’t know where to put my stress, or more accurately, I didn’t know what to do WITHOUT stress.

I’m sharing this because I hope that people don’t make the same mistakes I have made. I always brushed off my sadness as a “phase”. I thought I was upset because I was stressed at the time and I was pretty much in denial. Mental health should should be everyone’s priority. There’s often a stigma placed on talking about feelings and sadness. There shouldn’t be. If you feel like you need to talk to a professional, or are worried about a friend, please seek professional help.

 

Works Cited

Lieber, Arnold. "What Do I Do About Seasonal Affective Disorder? The Signs, Symptoms & Treatment." PsyCom.net - Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986. Psycom, n.d. Web.

"Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Topic Overview." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web.

"Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 Sept. 2014. Web.