Seasonal depression is nothing to ignore

Olivia Apostolovski, Editor-in-Chief

As the Christmas season draws ever closer, there is a feeling in the air that can only be described as “Christmas cheer”. Most kids will begin working on their Christmas lists, families will begin decorating the house and Christmas trees will be placed inside the house and decorated lavishly. Children will eagerly await Santa and the presents that he will bring, it may seem like nothing could ever go wrong with a wonderful holiday coming closer everyday.

For some however, the holidays are anything but joyous. As the days turn shorter and the sun spends the majority of its time hidden behind the clouds, many individuals feel more moody and leaves them with less energy than they are used to. This is normal, the changes in the seasons will cause something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where these moods are due to the changes in the seasons.

According to Mental Health America, about 5% of the population in a given year experience seasonal depression, the main age of this depression being around 20-30 years old but symptoms have the possibility of arising earlier.

A majority of the time, these feelings are only temporary and will go away but SAD is something that is recurring and something that will happen annually. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with SAD, they may also have symptoms of major depression, which can include feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day, having low energy problems with sleep and having difficulty concentrating.

There are two different patterns of SAD, the winter and summer. Symptoms of the winter pattern include having low energy, overeating, weight gain, social withdrawal and others, this is the most common type of seasonal depression. Summer SAD symptoms include insomnia, agitation, restlessness, anxiety and others.

SAD does not affect all individuals, there are certain attributes that will increase your risk for SAD, including being female, which according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), are diagnosed four times more than men. It also depends on your location, it is more frequent in people who live far north or south from the equator, family history, having depression or bipolar disorder and age, younger adults, teens and even children have been reported to have it more than older adults.

Due to the reduced levels of sunlight, this affects the amount of serotonin that individuals receive, which is a neurotransmitter that influences mood. Low amounts of this have been linked with depression.

While seasonal depression does not affect a large portion of the population, everyone begins to feel the seasons weighing on them as the year comes to the end, especially with students and their finals.