Shining a Light on Seasonal Depression

By: Gracie Anthony

     When the days get shorter, and the nights get longer, many people experience something called seasonal depression. Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D, often occurs during a specific time or season of the year. It is most common during winter, but it sometimes occurs in summer. According to http://www.myclevelandclinic.org, some symptoms people with S.A.D experience are sadness, anxiety, lack of energy, irritability, and tiredness. Those symptoms are similar to those that individuals with depression also experience. The difference between S.A.D and depression is that depression is all year round, while S.A.D is usually only one season.

     The Squire interviewed Eisenhower guidance counselor, Mrs. Hahn, to learn more about seasonal depression. When asked about the timing of seasonal depression, Mrs. Hahn explained that “Most cases of seasonal depression are reported during the winter months due to the lack of sunlight.  However, for some, it is the summer months that cause anxiety and stress.” The Squire also asked what she thought causes seasonal depression and she responded with, “Researchers are continuing to study the exact cause–some factors that they believe cause it are changes to the body’s internal clock due to seasonal changes and vitamin D deficiency due to a lack of sun and being outside. They have also found that women tend to be more affected by seasonal changes than men and that those who live further away from the equator (where there is less sun) are most affected, which strengthens the idea of a Vitamin D deficiency.”

     On a recent poll done by The Squire, 76% of the people who voted think they experience S.A.D. The poll also asked what some activities are or which coping mechanisms people use to help them overcome their seasonal depression. Many said that they like to go on walks and try to spend as much time outside as possible. Other responders said they like to watch certain videos, bake cookies, or hang out with friends. When asked, Mrs. Hahn advised:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet- “It is important to eat a well-balanced diet as many of our vitamins come naturally from food.”
  • Exercise- “Studies show that exercising 30 minutes a day for at least three times a week improves one’s mood and outlook.”
  • Open the curtains- “On sunny days open up the curtains to let as much light in the house as you can.”
  • Seek help if needed- “If these strategies do not help you feel better, and your symptoms last for more than 30 days, seek professional help from a doctor or a counselor.”

     Another method that can help with seasonal depression is light therapy. Light therapy is a perfect way to get your daily light in these dark months. You can buy a therapy light online on sites such as Amazon. The therapy light helps increase energy, improve mental health and moods, regulate sleep, and much more.  

     While some people experience S.A.D during the winter or summer months, others are unaffected. Mrs. Hahn explained, “Researchers have linked seasonal depression to those who have a family history of mental health conditions.” If you feel as though you suffer from seasonal depression or just need to talk to someone, you can reach out to any of your teachers or Mrs. Hahn. You can also talk to your doctor or a trusted adult at home to get you the help you need. So, if you need a little uplifting this season, get yourself a therapy light, go on a walk outside, or try exercising, and have a happy winter!

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