By Erica Wong |Foreign Corresponding|
Everyone except for me. I found myself sad and unmotivated—unable to get out of bed to do little more than shower and make ramen.
I stopped answering phone calls and I found myself sleeping around 18 hours a day, but I still felt exhausted.
This went on for almost three long weeks.
The melancholy of the long winter days is something that affects us all, but it hits some people harder than others.
Seasonal affective disorder, appropriately abbreviated as SAD, is depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It occurs at roughly the same time every year.
The shorter days of winter means less sunlight, which alters the body’s circadian rhythm or biological clock, creating a drop in serotonin, which is a brain chemical that affects our mood.
Most frequently, those affected by SAD will feel their depression creeping up around October or November and diminishing around springtime, but the depression may happen during any season.
Symptoms are characterized by feelings of sadness, loneliness, irritability, lethargy and sleep problems, lower libido, overeating and craving carbohydrates, and difficulty with concentration and memory.
“It is difficult to differentiate between SAD and other types of depression because of the huge overlap in symptoms,” said Jonathan Kam, a psychology graduate student at University of Delaware.
The greatest indicator of SAD is feeling down for two of the same seasons in a row and then feeling better around the same time as well.
In my personal experience with bipolar disorder, spring and summer may trigger mania while fall and winter are more likely to trigger depression.
However, my prescription for bipolar disorder is much different than someone with SADs would be.
This is why it’s imperative that a health care professional make the correct diagnosis in order for someone with SAD to receive the proper treatment.
“Experts say SAD may be attributed to hibernation and preservation of calories during colder months,” said Destiny Reid, psychology student at Yonsei University. “My old roommate had SAD and she had a sun lamp that she sat under for about an hour each day.”
This kind of therapy is called light therapy, which uses a light box with fluorescent light brighter than indoor lights in attempt to reset your circadian rhythm.
Counseling and antidepressants such as Prozac may also be used, either alone or with light therapy.
Regular exercise and going outside during the day also helps you have more energy and feel less depressed, but everyone has their own coping mechanisms.
“I’ll just cuddle with my puppy and go out with friends. I try to occupy myself so I don’t think about it,” said student Carolyn Valenta.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing the symptoms mentioned in this article, the CSUSB psychological counseling center can help diagnose and treat you.
You can reach them at (909)537-5040.