Lindsay Gross, Opinions Co-Editor
When fall and winter rolls around, clouds of gloom rest on Columbia High School (CHS) students. Oftentimes in the colder months people feel sluggish, low on energy, and fatigued, however, is there a rooted meaning to this? These symptoms may be a sign of seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Around the same time every year, the shorter days, the darker skies and the colder weather of the fall and winter months affects approximately 11 million Americans. While many CHS students may brush off their seasonal feelings of tiredness and sadness as a “seasonal funk” or “winter blues,” it is important for SAD to be taken seriously just as any other mood disorder or form of depression.
SAD is unique for it is a depression that is affected in tandem with the seasons. The most common form of SAD starts in the fall and goes through winter, but other forms can also appear in the spring. There is not a definite cause of SAD, but “one theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulates mood,” according to WebMD. Jacob Messeri, 21, agrees, “When the weather is nice I enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors, playing sports, waking my dog, going to the beach.” He added, “while I can do all of those things when it’s cold out, it’s just way less enjoyable and I spend a lot more time indoors.”
Seasonal depression is not something to be simply pushed to the side, as many symptoms usually begin in young adulthood and are more prevalent in young women. Common symptoms of SAD are feelings of sadness and hopelessness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, low energy levels, fatigue, greater appetite and difficulty sleeping. As these are all things teenagers and college students face on a daily basis, it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure a healthy lifestyle and mental state.
Milder cases can be prevented by simply being outside daily, sitting by a window to attract sunlight, and exercising for 30 minutes five days a week. Many CHS students find that being outside has helped them with their seasonal funk. Messeri said, “In the winter I take my dog on long walks which can suck because it’s cold out, but I think the time I spend outdoors really helps—I also think that staying active and working out can really help mood in every season, especially the winter when you are typically less active.” Additional forms of treatment include antidepressant medication, counseling, light therapy and Vitamin D.
However, due to COVID-19, CHS students have been occupied in their homes, not getting as much movement down the halls down from the D-wing to the B-wing. COVID-19 has provided a valid excuse to stay inside and not get the daily sun exposure key to preventing SAD.
According to Medical News Today, prior to the pandemic, 8.5% of US adults were diagnosed with depression, but the number has tripled to 27.8% since the pandemic hit. Ava Vroman, 24, stated, “Given that I could only hang out with my friends outside this past year due to COVID, and the weather oftentimes making that difficult, I would say [weather does have an impact on my wellbeing.]”
Summer on the horizon and an ease on COVID restrictions means longer days, warmer weather, longer lasting sunlight, and facilitating safe activities with friends and family to lift CHS students of their SAD.
Design by: Jack Griffith