How to Cope With Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a subtype of depression that affects about 5% of people in the United States every year (according to this helpful website). Originally, I thought the statistic would be higher than that, but after that I wasn’t surprised to learn that 4 out of 5 people that do suffer from SAD are women. The website mentions some possible causes, and a good list of symptoms, but their short list of treatments is extremely lacking.

The number one treatment is phototherapy, which sounds kinda sci-fi-esque, but it also seems like an inconvenient treatment. I may not have all of the answers, but as a college student with a small budget and an even smaller love of bright lights, I decided to come up with something else. Now, obviously these are just suggestions for how to cope with this kind of depression, and they probably won’t work for everyone with seasonal depression, but hopefully some people find them useful. They probably aren’t a bad idea for people with regular depression as well.

1. Go outside

Lately it seems like everytime I look outside at the gross, gray, cold weather I just want to put on comfy clothes and watch Netflix all day, not go to class or even step a foot outside. However, just because the sun isn’t out and the weather makes my nose freeze doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t go outside for at least a few minutes. I have two reasons behind this; one, fresh air is apparently good for you (even when it’s freezing your extremities), and two, there’s still health benefits from going outside in the winter. Last year I started suffering from Vitamin D deficiency (because I’m lactose intolerant and never went outside), so don’t be like me. Go outside.

2. Don’t do homework in your room

I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out sooner. When you work in your room, within jumping distance of your bed, you’re not going to get anything done. Sometimes I write like one sentence of my homework and then throw myself onto my bed and just lay there for half an hour because I deserve it after all my hard work. It’s not healthy. And even if you’re just moving into the hallway or making a trek to the library, just know that keeping your life focused in your room doesn’t work

3. Do something that makes you happy

I don’t mean ignore your work and watch Netflix all day (I’m so guilty of that), I mean that if you see your favorite cookies for sale, buy them. Just do one thing, maybe once a week, that genuinely makes you happy. I started watching The Masked Singer on Hulu (great show, watch it), and it’s such a ridiculous concept and show in general, but I think it’s really exciting and sparks the serotonin parts of my little brain. Since I only get to watch one episode a week, I get to look forward to it and think back to it all week. I also buy a lot of Mountain Dew, but let’s not talk about really bad habits right now.

4. Don’t eat a lot of pasta

This is a weird tip, but I sadly stand behind it. When people feel depressed, they tend to eat a lot of carbs, and in college the carb they have staring me in the face every day is pasta. Last year I ate a whole bowl of pasta basically every other day in the winter, but it made me feel like crap and didn’t help me feel any less depressed. It’s totally okay to eat pasta, I just recommend that you not overdo it.


These are my strange, but hopefully helpful, tips to help anyone experiencing SAD this winter, or really any time of the year. You can get through it. Believe in yourself!