The days are getting shorter, sunlight is fading, and many people’s serotonin is disappearing. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), better known as seasonal depression, is a common form of depression. SAD, specifically winter-pattern, symptoms can include weight-gain and over-eating, hypersomnia, low-energy, and social withdrawal (for more information go to https://www.nimh.nih.gov). In a survey done by a member of The Buzz, 38 individuals ranging from teens to middle-aged adults responded to whether or not they struggled with seasonal depression; 29 of which replied “yes” and nine said “no”. For those who responded “yes,” a handful shared their experiences with SAD.
The change between summer and winter takes long hours of the sun away. The lack of the sun is something many struggle with. One person shared that they feel trapped and it affects their productivity. Another downfall is the lack of Vitamin D. Lower levels of this vitamin have been found in individuals with SAD. During the winter, it is hard to intake Vitamin D through the sun, making it not only important to eat fruit and take vitamin supplements for seasonal depression, but Vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to other mental disorders and health issues.
A hardship mentioned by multiple people was motivation. There is little to no motivation to get anything done. Tasks that may seem as simple as cleaning a bedroom or bathroom, personal hygiene, and getting out of bed become a chore. One student mentioned they either cannot get out of bed or end up crawling back in constantly, making it hard to even leave the house. Activities like drawing, writing, and sports that usually bring happiness do not cause any feelings at all.
While experiencing SAD, emotions and thoughts are often unstable. Unpredictable mood swings and invalidating thoughts can be exhausting. The doubts and fears of being dramatic leave a feeling of guilt. Always having to battle their own emotions and trying to act normal, while not knowing why their mood is constantly changing is aggravating.
Finally, a few people shared how their depression affects others. They fear they become a burden to their loved ones. One experience that stuck out was having seasonal depression during the holidays and how hard it is to try and be happy around relatives. It is frustrating to feel upset when everyone else is in a cheery mood.
SAD and all mental illnesses and disorders are nothing to be ashamed of. Plenty of people struggle with mental health issues. Although seasonal depression is a common disorder, everyone experiencing it deserves help. When symptoms become more extreme, it is critical to reach out. For anyone feeling suicidal and alone, please reach out to a teacher, counselor, or call 800-273-8255. There is always someone who cares.
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