What is Seasonal Depression?


Alexis Binkley

     Have you ever heard of the term, seasonal depression? You most likely have… but did you know it’s considered a true mental health disorder and there are over three million US cases per year?

     SAD, also known as, seasonal affective disorder is, “a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.” Seasonal affective disorder occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. The Symptoms are minor but can become serious if not pinpointed and taken care of. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal. These signs typically become prominent through the fall and winter season due to the lack of sunlight.

     This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Vitamin D is essential to our body’s health, especially the mental aspect, during October and March we do not obtain enough vitamin D from sunlight. It is crucial to keep this in mind when these months are approaching so your mental mind can stay healthy.

     If you begin to feel these symptoms take over and you’re having depressing thoughts here are few things you can do.


Engage in winter activities

     A great way to bring a positive approach to the season is to engage in the seasonal activities. After a long week at school and or work, making time on the weekends to do something fun with friends and family is important. What’s a better way to do this than to make it seasonal. Ice skating, light shows, decoating, shopping, and snowboarding are great ways to get into the holiday mood and they are fun activities that will get your mind off of intrusive thoughts.

     There are local places that make it possible to participate in these activities: Perfect North provides multiple different slopes for skiing/snowboarding as well as something a bit more kid friendly, tubing. If the cold isn’t for you, there are plenty of local lights shows (see link below). The best part is you stay in your car and drive through the show. You’ll get to see all the bright colors and be in a warm car with some of your favorite people. The simple things tend to be the most meaningful so try to plan something simple and remember to have fun! 


Natural Remedies 

     A lack of sunlight is a huge factor in why seasonal depression takes over so how can you combat this? Take vitamin D supplements. Vitamins are a great way to source your body with what it’s lacking and your body naturally gets rid of what it doesn’t need. Vitamin D fuels the body in many ways by helping the growth and development of bones and teeth, provides resistance to diseases and improves depression symptoms in people. Open your windows! Let the sun come in any chance you get, believe it or not the sun genuinely does improve mental health because it is naturally increasing the serotonin levels. Try simple things such as holiday coloring books, baking, or movies. Anything that brings you true happiness you should continue to do. 


Seasonal Depression can hit without warning and it’s important to keep an eye on your mental health. If you are affected by SAD, find ways to bring happiness into your life. Keep activities simple but meaningful. The winter months, although dark and cold, have many opportunities to celebrate. Consider spending additional time with family and friends to boost your spirit. 


By: Alexis Binkley 

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