We’ve all noticed the recent changes in the weather, but perhaps you’ve also been noticing changes in your mood that aren’t changes for the better. You may be experiencing a common type of depression called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. Symptoms usually appear during late fall or early winter and may include tiredness or low energy; oversleeping; changes in appetite or weight; difficulty concentrating; withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities; irritability; and more. All of these lead to depression, pessimistic feelings of hopelessness, and lack of pleasure.
If you are experiencing these or similar symptoms now that the frigid weather is upon us, fear not! There are several things you can do to fight SAD. One of the most common is light therapy, where you sit in front of a special type of light for a set amount of time. You can find one of these lights in the Mind Spa, you can check one out at the Valley Library, or you can buy one yourself (I’m using mine now)! Other treatments include medication (which you can get a consultation for at SHS), Ionized-air administration (available in the Mind Spa), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (available through counselors at CAPS). You can also supplement any of these treatments with plenty of vitamin D and exercise, and by making your home environment brighter and spending more time outside.
It’s normal to have a day here and there where you don’t feel your best. However, if you feel down for days at a time and can’t get motivated to do activities you normally like, see a doctor at SHS or a counselor at CAPS. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation. SAD is usually an indicator or specifier of a larger issue like depression or bipolar disorder, so if you experience SAD, it’s important that you talk to someone about it and treat it so it doesn’t worsen and lead to other problems. I personally suffer from SAD every winter. I was having trouble coping, so earlier this week I saw a CAPS counselor. We discussed different strategies and tools for me to use to help manage SAD and I already feel much better than before! If any of the SAD symptoms sound like they could apply to you, I suggest you do what I did. It makes a huge difference, and it will make it a lot easier to finish the term strong! Good luck!