SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a clinically diagnosed disorder typically characterized by a fall or winter onset with several of the following symptoms: feeling sad or depressed, feeling lethargic, difficulty concentrating, sugar cravings, difficulty waking in the morning, social withdrawal, reduced productivity, and irritability.
These symptoms are a result of important brain chemicals, specifically serotonin and melatonin. In the northern latitudes, the disorder affects up to one in five people.
Dr. Alan Hill from the counseling center recognizes that many people try to tough it through and that this isn’t effective.
There are several forms of treatment for SAD. The most effective treatments, according to Dr. Alan Hill, are light boxes, eating properly, and exercising.
Light boxes are instructed to make the light shine on your eyes. This is one of the most influential forms of treatment for SAD as they replace sunlight in an artificial way.
The most common side effects are eye and/or skin irritation and headaches. There are light boxes in the counseling center, the health center, and they can be rented from the library. As a treatment regimen, exercise should be implemented into each day for at least 30 minutes.
Out-door activity is recommended, even if its cloudy, because it provides exposure to natural sunlight.
Having a regular sleep pattern also helps. In order to sleep well consider not ingesting caffeine after 3 p.m., or exercise or eat three to four hours before bedtime.
During the winter people tend to retreat to the indoors and seclude themselves from the cold world.
This can possibly lead to social withdrawal, which is a symptom of SAD. To combat this, make a commitment to interact with others, even if it’s just to study at the library.
Brighten up your home environment by opening blinds and drapes to let in as much natural light as possible. Add some living like plants to the room or put potpourri in the room to emit a fragrance.
Daniella Glymin ’17 recognizes that the cloudy skies can be a bit depressing sometimes and when this happens she usually snuggles up with a cup of hot coco, hits the gym, or contacts her family back home.
Glymin explained the importance of staying warm in the winter, as that could make a person more irritable or lethargic.
Steven Andrews ’17 explained that it is important to exercise during the winter as people aren’t going outside as much and therefore sitting around more.