Although seasonal affective disorder particularly impacts students in the fall and winter, it can still have an impact on students year round. Mental health organizations, like Drew’s Health Services, need to provide more information or resources for students on how to cope with SAD beyond fall and winter.
It is commonly understood that seasonal affective disorder is likely connected to the intensity of the light in the winter, according to Drew’s Health Services Website.
According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms include feeling down every day, losing interest in previously enjoyed activities, having low energy, excessive sleep, carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
To combat the symptoms, Health Services suggests light therapy, medication prescribed by a doctor, negative ion therapy, psychotherapy and dawn simulators. They also provide a list of other strategies to cope with winter specific seasonal affective disorder.
These strategies may be useful for fall and winter SAD, but students can also experience SAD during the summer and spring, according to Mayo Clinic.
South University more widely attributes seasonal affective disorder to chemical imbalances in the brain, which can apply to both warm and cold months. Those experiencing seasonal depression during the spring or summer may experience anxiety, insomnia and loss of appetite with an extreme pressure to feel happier during the warm weather because everyone else is reacting in that way.
According to WebMD, one could help combat summer depression by identifying whether or not it occurs, thinking about why it happens and planning ahead for it. When moping around at home without plans, it can be difficult to see other people post themselves having fun and enjoying the heat on social media. However, one should not worry about one’s feelings relative to others, and one should not assume that they should be happy just because it is summer vacation. Students should focus on themselves and figure out what triggers bad feelings, as well as what can help combat them.
Spring is a great time for Drew to reflect on and develop the resources the student body needs to help combat the effects of seasonal affective disorder beyond winter. Students also need to take this time to evaluate how much the changing of the seasons affects their mental health and find what helps them combat seasonal affective disorder.
Students should prioritize including social activity in their fall semester schedule. A lack of social interaction is loosely associated with depression, so making sure there is a healthy balance of social activity, work and rest can help reduce depressive symptoms. Students also need to open their blinds and let in as much sunshine as they can get. Sticking to a schedule and keeping a journal are other ways that could help students, particularly during the summer when students fall out of a rigorous academic schedule.
Seasonal depression is a year-round problem that needs attention from students and faculty. Good mental health is essential for the optimal student performance. Start preparing for the changing of the seasons now.