Image via Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
by Katie Hull
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., is a specific type of depression that is directly related to the seasons. The most common cases of S.A.D are fall/winter. The farther you live from the equator, the more cases of S.A.D. are found. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, about 10 million people in the United States are affected by this, and 10 to 20 percent of people in the world are affected. This disorder is four times more likely to occur in women than men. This is a real thing. Most people tend to just write off their sad or hopeless feelings as “winter blues”, but it is more than that. It’s a real problem that has real solutions. You don’t have to feel that way anymore.
“I definitely think it’s real but I won’t pretend to [know] the science behind it.” Rockwell High school english teacher Jacob Hampton said. “I’ve noticed people in my class that get more depressed during the winter months. Although I do not have personal experience with this, it makes sense that people’s mood would be affected by the weather. As well as if there is less sunlight people will be more sad.”
One cause of this disorder is the decrease of sunlight. Serotonin levels decrease during these months. How much sunlight you get effects this chemical. This chemical regulates mood and social behavior. Melatonin levels also get disrupted because of the time changes. This means that people are getting less sleep and may not be thinking as clearly or be as happy specifically because of that.
“I just feel sad in general and you get sad over stupid things.” says Zoie Miller, 8th grade Rockwell student. “The sun isn’t out. It’s like those scenes in movies when it’s raining outside because everyone is sad. You aren’t really sad for any reason, it’s just outside is sad and you are too.”
Some symptoms of this disorder
Feeling depressed all day
Losing interest in activities
Change in appetite
Feeling agitated and tired
Thoughts/actions of suicide or self-harm
Specific Winter/Fall S.A.D. Symptoms
Appetite changes ( especially cravings of foods with high carbohydrates)
Tiredness/ low energy
Specific Spring/Summer S.A.D. Symptoms
Trouble sleeping (Insomnia)
Agitation or Anxiety
“Some mornings it’s just really hard to get up and move. Nothing’s easy to do.” says Rockwell junior Mckay Marinos. “It gets dark early and there is nothing to do because it is dark and cold outside.”
There is hope. There are treatments as well as home remedies that seem to work as well or sometimes even better than the other treatments. One of the best home remedies is to simply get more sunlight. Spend more time outside or open all the blinds in your house to let as much natural light in as possible. Soak up that sunshine. Another home remedy is music or art therapy. Listening to music, singing, or playing an instrument has been proven to calm and make people feel better. Or if music is not the way for you, spend time using art as a creative way to express yourself or emotions. Meditation is another home remedy. It is time to just focus on something simple and to feel more calm or to start the day with a slow and easy thing. If any of those home remedies don’t work, the next step is to seek professional help. If you continue to feel this way then medicine is the way to go. You don’t have to let yourself feel sad or hopeless. You are important and you matter.