Coping with Seasonal Depression: Tips from your school counselors

The recent weather dropped to freezing temperatures leaving many people affected in emotional distress during the pandemic. COVID-19 impacted the mental health of many adults and teens. One commonly referenced disorder would be seasonal affective disorder or ‘seasonal depression’ (SAD). SAD is defined as a type of seasonal disorder due to the change in seasons.

SAD is very common in many people while other cases depending on severity. Symptoms begin and end at about the same time each year and typically, for most, symptoms start in autumn and progress through the winter months affecting many from doing daily tasks. Though symptoms vary, most experience symptoms of oversleeping, irritability, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, and change in appetite, typically craving more food with carbohydrates.

Mrs.Jessica Coyle shares her insight on student behavior and gives some recommendations on how to deal with the symptoms.
“What I notice is that students tend to feel more ‘blah‘ and have a general loss of energy. They sleep more and often spend less time with friends and less time on physical outdoor activities. Some students eat more in the winter months and crave carbohydrates. Lastly, students tend to complete less school work during this phase. SAD seems to peak during the months of February through March.”

“I would recommend increased time in light. For example, sitting by a sunny window. Another thing that helps with SAD is increased physical activity. For example, winter sports or joining a gym or dance class because physical activity increases feel good chemicals in the brain. Seek help. Depression is common and help is available. Most importantly, I would always recommend talking to someone about your feelings and reaching out to others for help such as parents, guidance counselor, school social worker or even an Aevidum Club member!”

In 2020, it has been estimated that 6% of adults in the US experience this disorder and causes of SAD are credited to the biological clock shifting to the change of seasons, mood altering caused by trouble regulating serotonin levels, or the overproduction of melatonin levels.

Using light therapy, getting physical exercise and counseling from your therapist or your school’s guidance counselor is recommended.

Guidance counselor, Mrs. Cindy Stasulli says, “ I think the main cause of seasonal depression would be the biological clock in humans. Losing that light affects us all as humans. During these cold seasons, we become more unmotivated and we pick up some habits such as overeating. Now if it’s really severe,I will give them the name of the counselor outside of school.

I would recommend brisk walks outside, physical activity, getting some fresh air most importantly get some of that sunlight! Students should limit their phone usage to a minimum and substitute that with new hobbies. I would also highlight spending more time with grandparents and family members. Playing with pets/animals because they make you happy and that triggers serotonin in the brain.”

As mentioned earlier, there are opportunities to talk to Aevidum Club members. You can pick up a form in the guidance office for more information.

If you are suffering, you can dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish. 800 -273-8255