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Winter Blues

Understanding Seasonal Depression and Strategies to Overcome It
Winter Blues
Rekhaa Sivaramakrishnan

As the winter months settle in, many individuals find themselves grappling with a seasonal shift that goes beyond mere weather changes. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly known as seasonal depression or the winter blues, affects numerous people worldwide. This condition typically begins in late fall or early winter and subsides as the days grow longer in spring and summer

Seasonal depression can affect high schoolers by impacting their mood, energy, and focus during the school year. The reduced sunlight and colder weather can contribute to feelings of fatigue, sadness, and difficulty concentrating, affecting academic performance and overall well-being. Understanding and addressing seasonal depression can help students manage their mental health and succeed in school.

 

 Understanding Seasonal Depression

 

The Impact of Seasonal Changes can vary from person to person because the reduced daylight and colder weather during winter can disrupt the body’s internal clock, leading to feelings of lethargy, low energy, and mood fluctuations. For some, these changes can significantly impact mental health, leading to symptoms such as: persistent sadness, lack of interest in activities once enjoyed, irritability, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns (oversleeping or insomnia) and increased appetite, especially cravings for carbohydrates; leading to weight gain. 

For many, combating seasonal depression involves doing more than just trying to stay positive.

A list of efficient methods to combat seasonal depression have been put together with the help of student responses. 

 

Assistance from your Peers to Address Seasonal Depression 

 

Anishka Beriwal suggests that Light Therapy has served most effective for her throughout high school. Light therapy involves using a light-box that emits bright light mimicking natural sunlight, “it almost assumes the role of the sun” and helps regulate my mood by compensating for the reduced daylight hours says Beriwal.  

Olene Ordonez suggests that another means of regulating emotions is through Regular Exercise. Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, improving mood and reducing feelings of depression. Whether it’s indoor exercises, gym workouts, or outdoor winter sports, staying active can alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression. “I love working out and keeping myself active because it keeps me happy that I’m making progress even when it’s cold outside,” says Ordonez. 

Afshan Rouf suggests that another way to keep yourself happy is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provides essential nutrients that support mental health. Avoiding excessive caffeine can also positively impact mood stability. “I’ve enjoyed trying a new diet this season, I’m going vegan!”  says Rouf. 

Bryan Nie suggests that another means of combating seasonal depression involves receiving social support and connection. Maintaining social connections, whether through virtual meetups or in-person gatherings following safety guidelines, helps combat feelings of isolation. Sharing experiences and emotions with friends, family, or support groups can offer comfort and understanding, says Nie. 

Ms. Diego suggests that Seeking Professional Help works best for some students. For severe symptoms or persistent feelings of depression, seeking professional help from therapists, counselors, or psychiatrists is crucial. They can provide various forms of therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or, in some cases, prescribe medication to manage symptoms effectively says Ms. Diego. 

Understanding the impact of seasonal changes on mental health is crucial in navigating the challenges of seasonal depression. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, utilizing available therapies, and seeking support when needed, individuals can effectively manage and alleviate symptoms, allowing them to embrace the winter months with greater resilience and well-being.

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