The season of depression

Zane Turner, Volunteer Writer

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also commonly referred to as “seasonal depression,” is a type of depression most prominent when the seasons change. SAD affects more than ten million Americans and some 10% to 20% of the population are suspected to have a mild form of SAD.

SAD can be a deadly type of depression as it can strike at any day and at any time; it’s intensity as well as its different effects can vary by day. Seasonal depression can be catastrophic to a student’s academic career as effort levels can be demolished in terms of minutes.

Normal things such as cleaning, schoolwork and even simple things such as eating can seem impossible as the ability to find motivation is destroyed.

There is an overwhelming feeling of uselessness; it can be incredibly difficult to escape SAD’s grasp. It’s very easy to fall into holes so that is why it’s so important to do things to avoid this.

“When summer is over and the weather changes, there is much less to do outside,” said the Director of Mental Health Services, Carmen Ritcher. “Students stay in their rooms more, are less active physically and socially, may not pay attention to a healthy diet, and sleep more. We often see patterns when the available daylight hours decrease and outside temperature decrease, mood difficulties increase.”

With the sudden change in the temperature, there is no doubt students are facing the full front of this depression. Without the time available to slip into patterns and a rhythm to prevent seasonal depression,  it undoubtedly has caught some students off guard leaving them to the winds of this depression without the coat they normally have.

The increase in rain from an active hurrican season has had an impact on not only students with SAD but everyone on campus as everyone is getting less time outside and the atmosphere becomes gloomier. However, if a student has seasonal depression, it is better to seek help sooner rather than later as this depression can get bad fast without the proper care.

Luckily, the University of North Alabama provides counseling services.

“Be sure to take care of yourself, take advantage of pretty days outside with pleasurable activities, and reach out to others if you feel stuck,” said Ritcher.

Richter shares some wise words for when a student is under the duress of seasonal depression.

Sunlight can be a major up in the downward spiral that is seasonal depression. Sunlight can inspire and energize anybody as well as the calm atmosphere that comes from being outside. It can lift someone out of that hole they are in, or lift someone’s spirits that are under threat of seasonal depression.

It can be small things such as making beds, sweeping or standing outside that will keep someone out of the way of SAD– just the small productive steps can mean the world.

“There are many self-care tips located at our website,” said Ritcher. “Student Counseling Services are available to all actively enrolled students at UNA.  Individual and group therapy sessions are available along with wellness workshops and many other self-directed self-care resources.  We encourage students to call us at 256-765-5215 to schedule an appointment.”

There are resources to provide help for not only the students with SAD, but the students who may need help getting through this rough change of pace.

As all students are left out in the blizzard of adulthood and there is no shame in asking for help, everyone needs help at a time in their lives and no one ever did it by themselves.

With COVID-19, as well as the rapidly changing weather, this is the time to be supportive of the people around us as everyone is going through something and everyone needs a pick-me-up. 

That one compliment about someone could get them through the rest of the day of classes, or help push them to get up and be a better person. Be the positive change on campus, be the reason someone wakes up in the morning, everyone has that ability we just have to use it, positivity fosters positivity.