Seasonal Depression

Reese Richmond, Features Editor

  As the holidays near, it means hot cocoa, warm sweaters, glittering ornaments, and cookie decorating for many people. However, for some people, the winter brings seasonal affective disorder.

  According to the Cleveland Clinic, seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that occurs around the same time every year. 

  As summer fades to fall, people with seasonal affective disorder will begin to feel its effects as the skies get darker and the days get colder. SAD becomes the worst in winter; through the months of December-February. People with SAD will usually stop feeling its effects as spring rolls around.

  The Cleveland Clinic reports that about half a million suffer from SAD in the United States and among these people, three-quarters of them are women.Usually, SAD begins within early adulthood, can happen with children, and is less common in older adults.

  Symptoms of SAD include anxiety, irritability, excessive fatigue, a loss of interest in usual activities, and weight gain.

  One student at Granite Bay High School, who wishes to remain anonymous, suffers from SAD. This student has had SAD for about six years and has been medically diagnosed by several different doctors. However, this student’s particular case of SAD has been caused by traumatic events that took place during several winters.

  “It (SAD) was kind of an accumulation of traumatic events that all happened around this time of year throughout the course of several years,” the student said.
  After having awful anxiety attacks, the student became aware that something wasn’t right and began to consult doctors.

  “I started getting really bad anxiety attacks that caused me to pass out and have brain seizures, but only when it got cold outside. Many different doctors came to the conclusion that it was a form of depression (mostly seasonal in this case), mixed with some other health issues, that came along with the events that caused my depression,” the student said.

  After becoming aware of the depression the student was experiencing, they began have tests run and seek treatment.

  “I’m still in the process of getting things figured out because nothing helped so far. We have tried year round antidepressants prevent it but it didn’t help,” the student said. “The doctor that I’m talking to right now suggests for me to try and say warmer and the psychologist says that I should try to create happier memories, replacing the old ones.”

  Although nothing the doctors have recommended has treated this student’s SAD, they have coping mechanisms that help them.

  “Taking new pictures that remind me of the new memories to look at helps me to replace the old memories,” the student said.

  Along with this, they avoid cold weather, such as snow, as much as possible and always try to wear layers.

  Because of their SAD, it makes it much harder for this student to enjoy the holidays.

  Although they haven’t found a way to fix their SAD, this student has hope that one day, she will find a treatment.

  GBHS senior Katie Hunter began feeling the symptoms of SAD the winter of her seventh grade year. Until recently, Hunter wasn’t quite sure why she was feeling the way she was during winter.

  “I had no idea what was happening, I just knew that things like getting out of bed were harder and I didn’t enjoy my friends as much anymore,” Hunter said. “But of course by springtime and summer I was feeling better and everything felt right again.”

  However, this year, Hunter read an article on seasonal depression and finally understood what she was going through and self diagnosed herself with SAD.

  While people who experience SAD may dread the winter season, the holidays actually give Hunter something to look forward to.

  “The holidays actually can be very helpful, they give me something to look forward to and be excited about,” Hunter said. “I’d say it’s really just the months after Christmas like January and February that hit me the hardest.”

  Because Hunter was unsure of what she was experiencing for quite some time, it made it difficult for her to seek help, but now she’s able to do so.

  “I have seen a therapist before but I think it really helps too just to kind of lean on the support of my family and friends,” Hunter said.

  Despite experiencing the effects of  SAD, Hunter isn’t letting it stop her from applying to colleges in states on the east coast that can have very harsh winters,

  “I definitely know that it (attending college somewhere with harsh winters) will be very difficult, especially with the distance between me and my family, but the schools there are such amazing opportunities for theatre that I would never forgive myself if I let it (SAD) get in the way of that,” Hunter said.