By GENEVIEVE PRESLEY
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD is a type of depression that’s related to the change in seasons, specifically in the fall and winter months. However, SAD can happen during any season of the year and affects everyone differently.
Some students said they tend to be less motivated when the weather gets colder. “I wouldn’t say I’m more stressed, but I guess I tend to procrastinate more,” Anabel Duran, a nursing major, said. “If I do have any stress, I try to get my work done before the sun goes down since my body naturally starts getting more tired around sundown, or I try to plan a time where I can sit down and work through a ton of work at once.”
Behavioral Health Counselor, Alyssa Duncan, said SAD symptoms can range from sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, a persistent feeling of melancholy, difficulty staying interested in pleasure or activities and decreased or increased appetite.
“If you know that certain months are more difficult, building in more support can help prevent and reduce symptoms,” Duncan said. “Like with any disorder, experiences are in a range and won’t look identical person-by-person. It can even look different as far as if someone experiences SAD in the winter versus in the spring. Everyone handles things differently depending on their support system, their knowledge and if they’ve received professional help.”
Psychology Professor, Tanner Hargrove, said those experiencing SAD start to feel a sense of depressive symptoms. He said when student motivation goes down, empathy and apathy go up. “It’s harder to do schoolwork or to get out of bed and make it to class. It’s harder to be motivated to get assignments done, it also becomes more difficult to be motivated to be social or around other people,” he said.
Hargrove said everyone experiences SAD and students shouldn’t be hard on themselves during this time of year. He recommends sticking to a routine, along with staying connected to other people, which can be highly beneficial in helping students with SAD to feel better.
“There’s a lot of research that suggests things like outdoor activity, nature and Vitamin D are incredibly beneficial for SAD,” Hargrove said. “We can feel like we’re caged in SAD, so any experience that gets us moving outward is going to be beneficial. So, with no other strings attached, being able to watch a movie and let ourselves enjoy it or being able to eat a good meal with friends that we really enjoy. Staying connected to other people, it’s one of the healthiest things we can do to target this specific disorder,” he said.