By Taylor Daly
Building snowmen, wearing mittens, drinking hot chocolate, and nestling next to warm, cozy fireplaces. While the season of winter may often conjure up these classic holiday images, for many it represents something far darker: a period of unexplained depression that begins its slow buildup in the autumn months, peaks in January or February, and then disappears at the first sign of spring. The clinical name for this strange occurrence is seasonal affective disorder, and it can happen at any change of season, though winter is the most common trigger. Symptoms include oversleeping, overeating, lack of energy or concentration, and withdrawal from friends and family.
Think that you might have SAD? You are not alone. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, six percent of people in the United States experience full-blown SAD, and another 10 to 20 percent may suffer from a milder form of it. Several students at East report feeling down during the winter months, too.
“It’s just so hard to get out of bed in the morning when it’s cold like this,” said one student who wishes to remain anonymous.
Milica Stanisic, a junior, agrees.
“It happens to me every year,” she said. “I just hate the winter.”
Prescribed treatments for this pesky condition can range from light therapy to anti-depressant medication. For those without access to these solutions, talking to a close friend or family member about what you are going through can always help. Exercise can also aid in combating the winter blues. If it is too cold to go outside, there are many indoor activities that one can do, including yoga, Pilates, and treadmill running. While it may be tempting to lounge on the couch and eat junk food, staying healthy is crucial in fighting off SAD.
Stanisic has another helpful idea for warding off seasonal depression: music.
“Sometimes a song is all it takes to feel a whole lot better,” she said.
While there is not much substantial research to support this claim, many other students agree.
“Music gets me through tough times,” said junior Emily Watkins.
The most important thing to remember is that winter will not last forever—spring is just around the corner—and it is not all bad. As junior Cassie Watters said, “I don’t really have a problem with winter because it means we’re halfway through the school year!”