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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Carl Corazzini

WINTER BLUES? Many students find Window 3 to be the longest and hardest window of the year. Combined with the lack of sunshine and warmth, increased stress can lead to negative mental health consequences. Sometimes this causes what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, a fitting acronym), or Seasonal Depression.

This stall talk was made by Lina Zhang and Bethany Batista. Feel free to continue the conversation with them!

What is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal depression usually begins during late fall or early winter, and disappears during sunnier parts of spring and summer. However, some have the reverse, feeling SAD during the summer.

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed for most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Being unable to concentrate in class or in sports.
  • Experiencing challenges with sleep.
  • Having frequent thoughts about death and suicide.

Feeling hopeless, guilty, and worthless.[1]

What Causes SAD?[3]

No definite cause of SAD has been identified, but many speculate that lack of light exposure is a key part of SAD's trigger. Other causes may be higher melatonin levels, a hormone that regulates sleep, and lower serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that controls mood and energy levels.

When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary."

——Fred Rogers

While you may not be clinically diagnosed with SAD, you may still experience "winter blues" or feel less energized during winter. However, there are many ways to stay healthy at St. Mark's.

  • Outdoors exercise is crucial because of sunlight. Many studies have also linked exercise to decreasing depression symptoms.
  • Spend time with friends, loved ones, and trusted adults.
  • Prioritize sleep before homework, and ask for help and extensions on homework assignments if you need them.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Sugar may sound like a good idea, but it isn't.
  • Be patient with yourself, and accept your sadness and lack of energy. It will pass, and you will be okay.
  • Support your friends and peers. Getting better is a community effort.

Statistics On SAD[2]

In the US, approximately ten million people live with SAD, while 10 to 20 percent of the population have a milder form of it.

Teenagers are more likely to experience SAD than older adults.

Similar to other forms of depression, women are four times more likely to be affected by SAD than men.

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