Winter blues’ cause distress during fall and winter seasons

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

As people reach their college years, a type of depression tends to occur during the fall and winter months that can put a drag on students’ lives.

It is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which many college students struggle with during fall and winter months.

According to, there are multiple symptoms of fall and winter SAD, including depression, loss of energy and social withdrawal. Other symptoms include appetite changes – especially cravings for carbohydrates – insomnia, weight gain and difficulty concentrating and processing information.

“I think it [seasonal affective disorder] is a valid diagnosis; it kind of makes me sad when it’s not sunny out,” said Haylea Hamaker, a sophomore nursing major. “I know that I really enjoy being outside in the sunlight. It’s fun to be outside.”

SAD affects almost 500,000 people a year and 10 to 20 percent of people experience mild SAD. SAD usually begins with people at the age of 20 and older. It is more common in women than men, but children and teenagers are not usually affected. It is also more common in people who live farther from the equator and is less common in places that get snow frequently.

The person affected by SAD reacts adversely to decreasing amounts of light and temperature that are related to winter and fall. Symptoms begin in the fall and end in the spring.

The term seasonal affective disorder first appeared in print in 1985; before this, it was simply considered the winter blues. Research shows that bright light can change brain chemistry and serotonin levels change with seasonal depression.

There are multiple remedies that help with SAD, according to The first is a light box; it simulates the balanced spectrum of daylight, which helps overcome sadness. One session per day is required to help resume a happier state-of-mind.

Staying away from refined carbohydrates can help with depression. Vitamin supplements and getting plenty of exercise can also help those experiencing SAD. Just 30 minutes of exercise per day can help generate more self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Cutting back on alcoholic beverages and increasing the amount of water taken in everyday can also be a great help. Dehydration is a direct cause of decreased energy. For those people who enjoy using tanning beds with ultra-violent rays, this is a quick way to get an intake of light throughout the entire body. It is not the same thing as natural sunlight, but it is the next best thing.

Spring and summer SAD on the other hand is a type of summer depression, according to Symptoms include things such as: insomnia, irritability, weight loss, poor appetite and increased sex drive.

There is also something known as Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. This only occurs in rare cases, but people with Reverse SAD don’t have depression; instead they have symptoms of mania or hypomania during the summer months.

Some symptoms of reverse SAD include persistently elevated mood, increased social activity, hyperactivity and out-of-proportion enthusiasm.

There are many ways that students can prevent depression during the winter months. Sunlight is not something that can be replaced, but it can be balanced by other activities.

#1.882804:3734949140.jpg:kara.jpg::Mike Goetz