Coming back to the grind of school may not be the only thing getting you down.
Seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D), according to Mayoclinic.org, “is a type of depression that’s related to the changes in seasons.” Winter weather causes some people to fall into an unfortunate state of mind.
Our definition of “bad weather may be mild in San Luis Obispo, but that doesn’t mean this disorder can’t affect the residents of this coastal city. According to mentalhealthamerica.net, people between the ages of 18 and 30 are most susceptible to S.A.D.
The darkness of winter tends to cause our bodies to produce more melatonin, a hormone related to sleep. Melatonin has been linked to people developing S.A.D.
“Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the ‘winter blues’ or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own,” Mayo Clinic states. “Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.”
Some symptoms a person with S.A.D may be experiencing include sad or anxious feelings, loss of interest, fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating and even thoughts of suicide or death, according to www.nlm.nih.gov.
Not everyone struggles through the same symptoms of S.A.D., and this does not discredit anyone’s case of the disorder just because someone may be experiencing different effects. If you are experiencing feelings or difficulties that indicate S.A.D., seek help with a doctor or counselor.
If someone you know is showing signs of S.A.D., be there for them and attempt to speak with them about it. Urge them to also seek medical or therapeutic help. Peer health educators are also available to speak with on campus at the PULSE center.
Light therapy, according to Mental Health America, proves the most common treatment for more serious cases of this disorder.
“Patients remain in light up to ten times the intensity of normal domestic lighting up to four hours a day, but may carry on normal activities such as eating or reading while undergoing treatment” Mental Health America states. Treatment proves to be 85 percent effective in most serious cases.
Theresa Fagouri, the PULSE director, remembers her parents keeping her busy while she grew up in Alaska, a place where seasonal affective disorder is quite common. She also recalls people treating the disorder with tanning beds.
For less severe cases, simply spending more time outdoors can have effects on a person’s mood and overall state of mind. Take a break from studying and go on a walk, or even consider studying outside.
Anti-depressant drugs have also been known to help patients with S.AD, although one should thoroughly discuss this option with their doctor before taking further actions.
Don’t let temporary feelings of sadness lead you to believe you have S.A.D. Wait until the feelings and symptoms seriously affect your everyday life and impede you from performing everyday activities before seeking out a doctor’s help.