Seasonal depression can cause many to lose energy for daily activities
SAN ANTONIO- The holiday season is officially in full swing. Although it is largely regarded by many as the most wonderful time of the year, for others, it is one of the most depressing and loneliest times of the year.
As the weather changes and sunlight fades faster than usual, many across the United States are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
According to the NewYorkTimes, S-A-D is a type of clinical depression that occurs as the seasons change from Fall to Winter and can affect up to 10% of the U.S. population. Those affected by SAD usually feel better as the Spring and Summer months roll around. Still, a few will experience the opposite, depression during the Spring and Summer months and relief during the Fall and Winter months.
It is common to experience feelings of frustration, unhappiness, restlessness and anxiety as the holidays quickly approach and the days get shorter. However, S-A-D includes symptoms that may remain long after the holidays have passed and return around the same time every year.
According to mayoclinic.org, symptoms of S-A-D include but are not limited to,
- ● Oversleeping
- ● Lack of interest in everyday activities
- ● Constant feelings of tiredness or feeling sluggish every day or nearly every day
- ● Increase in appetite and weight
- ● Difficulty concentrating
- ● Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and or guilt
- ● Suicidal thoughts
Experts are not sure what exactly causes S-A-D, but many theorize that a person’s biological clock plays a key factor. The seasonal decrease in sunlight may disrupt your internal clock, lowering your melatonin levels and causing feelings of depression.
Local San Antonio resident Isaiah Flores, who has been navigating seasonal depression for as long as he can remember, says his symptoms are year-round.
“I pretty much have seasonal depression every year. It is just a general sense of sadness when there is less sun. I just feel less happy, less present and not wanting to leave my room,” Flores said. “I think a lot of people like me get irritated by the song that says it’s the most wonderful time of the year when for us it really is not, it can be very challenging.”
Not everyone experiences depression in the same way; not all symptoms are alike. Because of this, there is no one way to treat it. Treatment also depends on how severe your S-A-D is.
According to experts with aetna.com, for mild to moderate symptoms, the best way to treat S-A-D would be to focus on certain aspects of your everyday life. This includes your nutrition, exercise, sleep, and relaxation. Checking your vitamin D levels and possibly taking vitamin D supplements is also recommended due to their link with depression.
“I think what’s important is hanging out with friends and trying to participate in the holiday activities even if it’s kind of a little annoying to leave your room and get out of bed,” Flores said.
Some everyday things you can do to try and cope include:
- ● Preparing your mind in advance before the winter months arrive
- ● Bright light therapy
- ● Prioritizing social activities
- ● Aromatherapy
- ● Journaling
- ● Avoiding alcohol
Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) student Jennifer Salgado said she occasionally experiences similar symptoms.
“I definitely feel lonely, especially during the holidays. I do get very stressed during this time of year,” Salgado said. “Often because of finals and the end of the semester because I’m in my own head and I’m stressing by myself, and I just want to be with my family or surrounded by people that I love.”
Everyday stress can be felt at a more intense level for those affected by S-A-D.
If your symptoms are moderate to severe, self-care may not be enough, and it is highly recommended to seek professional medical help. Seeing a medical counselor or therapist during these rough times is also highly recommended. Any additional pressure and stress should be avoided and instead, making the holiday season a time to recharge should be a top priority.
“A lot of the time I usually write it down anywhere that I can, I’m a journaler, so usually it relieves me to write it down or just to talk to my loved ones about it,” Salgado said. “It really helps to at least get it out to someone who you love and trust.”
Flores offers this advice for those who may be suffering from seasonal depression on a more intense level,
“Do not let it keep you in your room, and do not stay on your phone, in fact maybe put your phone in another room so you’re not just isolating yourself,” Flores said. “I think that is a very big thing that people who go through this have happen to them where they isolate themselves and it makes it worse.”
As a final thought, Flores added, “I would say it is a very universal thing and we need to talk about it more. The sun will rise again. This will pass.”
Salgado offers this advice for those who may be suffering from seasonal depression on a more intense level,
“I would definitely advise reminding yourself that it’s temporary and you’re not going to feel that way forever,” Salgado said. “All the work you’re doing is going to pay off and all the stress you’re enduring will pay off.”
End-of-the-semester pressure can worsen symptoms for those affected.
There is only you, and taking care of your mental state of being is crucial. These tough times will not last forever. You are important, you matter and things will improve.
If you are outside of the U.S., please visit apple.com/heretohelp for a list of global helplines.
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