Seasonal Depression an Unknown Branch of Depression

Alayna Jones, Reporter

With the leaves changing and days turning shorter, it’s easy to become lost in the pit of despair known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or more commonly known as Seasonal Depression. While most symptoms of SAD don’t show until later in the season, we can definitely learn how to prevent it now during the most stressful time of the year. 

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, the financial burden of these momentous holidays can be great; not to mention colder temperatures and less daylight. These factors all combined, cause a perfect storm for people susceptible to depression of any kind. With shorter days, our bodies have less opportunities to get Vitamin D which is crucial to our bone and muscle health. With the physical darkness, it’s easy for our minds to dwell on negative thoughts. In an article produced by the Cleveland Clinic, it stated, “Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters send communications between nerves. These chemicals include serotonin, which contributes to feelings of happiness.” Sunlight produces serotonin which supports our feelings of joy and happiness. Thus, the lack of sunlight explains how people with SAD usually feel sad (no pun intended) and tired. 

Some symptoms of SAD are sadness, anxiety, fatigue and lack of energy, irritability and in some extreme cases, suicidal thoughts can be present. Interestingly enough, a mere change in temperature and day length can cause so many complications whether it be mental or physical. This shows how much humans rely on outside forces to make them happy or feel healthy. 

Addison Eyre is a sophomore and she is very active in cross country, basketball, and track. She says, “I think I do feel sad sometimes when I’m not able to play sports.” Humans rely a lot on weather in order to maintain their mental health, leading to many disruptions when the days turn longer and colder. 

Seasonal affective disorder is only present in about 4-6 percent of the US population, but up to 20 percent have mild SAD, according to American Family Physician. “ Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than age 20. Your chance of getting SAD goes down as you get older.” Teenagers aren’t the most prone to SAD, but it is common for teens to feel some sort of sadness around winter time. 

There are many resources for people struggling with SAD or even people who may think they have SAD. Some treatments for more serious cases include medication, but there are some methods that can help ease symptoms such as a dawn light simulator, or something as simple as keeping a schedule and prioritizing social interactions.

Although this time of year is hard for many, if people are aware of the symptoms and side effects of this disorder and they know how to combat it, they can spend the holidays and winter months with a happy attitude.