Seasonal depression: an additional bump in the road for students


Photo by Justin Miller

Junior Hongjin Fang struggles to maintain focus on his schoolwork during the winter months

As the days get colder and the clouds get gloomier you may notice many more mood shifts in your daily life. This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a condition that is responsible for causing people to be overtired, emotionally drained or even depressed during the cold and somber months.

Approximately three to seven percent of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and the reasoning for each case can range from different causes. One cause is issues in your biological clock. The reduced level of sunlight keeps you less energetic and may disrupt your body leading to symptoms of depression. Another reason for Seasonal Affective Disorder is lack of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone whose function is to regulate mood, cognition and memory. If your serotonin levels drop from reduced sunlight, it may result in depression and anxiety. The final cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is lack of melatonin. Melatonin regulates your sleep patterns along with your mood so lack of melatonin can result in sleep deprivation, which leads to depression. “I find that in the winter months I seem to put less effort into my work,” senior Nikhil Bakshi said.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can lead to major problems among the student population.
Complications of Seasonal Affective Disorder can be problems with work and school, social withdrawal, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behaviors or eating disorders. In school students’ grades tend to drop during the late second quarter. “My grades have dropped from the first quarter to the second,” senior David Horcasitas said.

Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t only affect the student population but may affect teachers as well. Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is most commonly diagnosed to middle schoolers and high schoolers, Seasonal Affective Disorder also impacts about five percent of adults in America.

Although there is no cure to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are ways to keep the complications minor. There are products that can help treat your disorder such as day lamps, which create a light similar to the sun that tricks the brain into thinking it is seeing a sunrise. Another product is a daylight alarm, which gets brighter and brighter as the morning progresses in order to portray a sunrise.

The most important and productive way to help mellow out the symptoms would be to get sunlight whenever possible. Whether it be going out for a run or drinking a cup of coffee outside, it is very important to get sunlight whenever you can. “In the winter months I try to get outside and be active as much as I can,” junior Atse Tafa said.