Are you SAD?

By Casey Dibari, Holly Feola & Katie Peters Opinion Editor & 1851 Staff

Coping with the cold winter months can be difficult, especially for those who yearn for sunshine and warmer temperatures. If you struggle with the changing of seasons, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “[SAD]
is a form of depression also known as seasonal depression or winter depression.” People with SAD experience mood changes and symptoms similar to depression that begin around fall and cease in the spring months.

The APA recognizes January and February as the most challenging time period for those who experience SAD. According to Professor of Psychology and Human Services Kimberly Griffith, “Overall exposure to light impacts hormone regulations, so when there is less light to be exposed hormone regulation can be affected.”

SAD can impact our circadian rhythm, or biological clock, which determines our sleep schedule, mood, energy, and eating schedule. Professor Griffith has never had a student open up to her about having SAD, but has noticed that it is more difficult for students to focus on assignments and submit work on time during time periods of low sunlight.

How much do students on campus know about SAD? Many students that were interviewed knew what SAD was and feel some effect on their mood from the seasons, but did not describe themselves as having SAD.

“For some seasons, you feel one way and then for another season it could be something totally different,” says first-year English major Ethan Filiault.

“Now that it is springtime, actually just in the recent days, I’ve been feeling happier,” says first-year fashion merchandising major Julia Ricco. “It might just be coincidental, but [the seasons] could have […] an effect on it.”

The seasons also affect the motivation for enjoyable activities. Some students expressed that the winter discourages them from doing things such as going into Boston or spending time outside. This can lead students to feel stuck in inside with nothing to do.

Depending on the severity of the depression, strategies and treatments can range from basic self-care upkeep to psychotherapy and medication. This disorder impacts each person living with it differently, so treatments will vary.

“I would focus on doing something productive, something you like, so that way you’re out there and getting your mind off of it,” junior Rylie Smith suggests.

Senior Public Relations major Daniel Cohen shares his own coping methods saying, “I walk around outside and listen to fun loud music.”

Other students have suggested that being surrounded by friends can relieve some SAD symptoms. “When I’m feeling down I head over to my friend’s room,” senior fashion merchandising major Dani Rhodes said.

Lasell offers free and confidential counseling to all students at the Counseling Center. It is a useful resource for anyone who might be going through a rough time and need extra support at any point of the year. The center is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and is located at 80 Maple Terrace.

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