Seasonal Changes are No Joke for People with Seasonal Depression

The+shift+from+sunny+to+cloudy+weather+that+comes+along+with+changing+seasons+affects+some+in+more+ways+than+others.+For+many%2C+this+shift+only+invites+seasonal+depression+to+rear+its+ugly+head.

Graphic by Domenica Peloso

The shift from sunny to cloudy weather that comes along with changing seasons affects some in more ways than others. For many, this shift only invites seasonal depression to rear its ugly head.

Domenica Peloso, A&E Editor

The never-ending cycle of frigid, rainy, and sweltering weather that comes along with changing seasons can be more than just an inconvenience. For some, this cycle is not just a hindrance because of the need to change one’s wardrobe or take down old decorations, but because it affects their brain chemistry.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. 

The most common form of SAD occurs during autumn and winter, and usually resolves in spring and summer. However, whether a person develops symptoms at the beginning or the end of the year, one common trend of seasonal depression remains – it escalates as the season goes on.

“Personally, I would say I feel the most affected in winter because I just have no motivation to hangout with my friends,” said sophomore, Emma Gibson. 

Symptoms of SAD include oversleeping, changes in appetite, insomnia, anxiety, and agitation. 

Seasonal depression is a widespread disorder that is caused by a multitude of different things. The most notable of these factors being a person’s serotonin levels, melatonin levels, and biological clock, or circadian rhythm. 

I would kinda just stay in my room and wouldn’t hang out with my friends and spent a lot of my time sleeping”

— Emma Gibson

Serotonin production is directly linked to the amount of sunlight a person intakes; the more sun, the more serotonin. However, once plunged into the darkness and gloom of autumn and winter, a person’s serotonin level is dramatically depleted, which can lead to depression. 

The production of melatonin is the body’s natural response to darkness, which is why humans sleep with their lights turned off. But a person’s level of melatonin is commonly increased during months with less sun, resulting in feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, and in some cases, depression. 

The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural response to light, and helps to regulate when one wakes up and goes to sleep. That being said, the sudden shift in sunlight that comes with changing seasons often disrupts individuals’ biological clock, causing depression and disorderly sleeping. 

Seasonal depression affects women almost four times more than men, and is more likely to affect teenagers and adolescents. 

“I would kinda just stay in my room and wouldn’t hang out with my friends and spent a lot of my time sleeping,” said Gibson.

With the frigid, dreary days of winter ahead, it’s important to take care of one’s mental health and recognize when and how to reach out for help.