The temperature is stuck in the single digits. All through the day, the sunlight is filtered through thick grey clouds. Your fingers and toes are permanently cold, but even worse, your spirit seems frozen. Is this how you experience winter months? If so, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a condition that affects many people in the winter when the light is low and summer seems ages away.
SAD is a cyclical type of depression usually suffered when daylight and temperatures decrease. The exact physiological cause of SAD is unknown, but according to the National Mental Health Association, it could be related to changes in melatonin levels, body temperature and sleep patterns. SAD is more common among people living in higher altitudes, younger populations and females.
It’s important to note the difference between SAD and the “winter blues.” The “winter blues” can usually be overcome with increased physical activity and increased amounts of light in the living and work environment. SAD sufferers may need more intensive treatment, specifically light therapy or, in extreme cases, antidepressants. Only a trained clinician can accurately distinguish between depression, SAD and a case of the winter blues. The questions below are a way for you to learn more about how you may be feeling this winter; however, you should call the counseling center for a more in-depth assessment.
There are numerous ways to treat SAD. Students with SAD may want to start with these simple suggestions:
If your depression persists, discuss your symptoms with your physician or mental health counselor. You may need more intensive therapy or medication.