What is seasonal depression?

How to handle the winter blues

As the sun begins to set earlier and the temperature begins to drop, the holiday season and gloomy weather can take a toll on one’s mental health. There are a variety of reasons people gain sadness this time of year, but there are some ways to help cope with the winter blues.

Seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as seasonal depression, is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year – most often fall or winter. There are a variety of reasons someone may be experiencing seasonal depression; lack of sunlight, increased production of melatonin, experiencing the holidays without loved ones, etc. 

Symptoms can include losing interest in activities, oversleeping, feeling sluggish, appetite change, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, etc. 

It is important to understand that seasonal affective disorder is a true form of depression, while the “winter blues” can be normal to feel.

While it is important to seek professional help if you suffer from seasonal depression, there are some ways to help cope. Depending on the nature and severity of seasonal depression, antidepressants or therapy are suitable treatment options. For some people with seasonal depression, light therapy can help. Light therapy is sitting beneath or in front of a light box, simulating sunlight. Lifestyle changes and home remedies are great options; open up the blinds to allow sunlight in, get outside, exercise regularly, and normalize sleep patterns. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing seasonal affective disorder, please seek professional help. Tarleton State University offers Student Counseling Services located at the Wellness Center on the first floor of Traditions North. Appointments at the Wellness Center are included in students semesterly tuition, appointments can be made by calling 254-968-9044.

Tarleton now offers My Student Support (MySSP). MySSP is a free 24/7 confidential mental health and wellbeing support service. Students can access MySSP online at myssp.app or by downloading MySSP in the App Store. 

For more information regarding seasonal depression and seasonal affective disorder, go to www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651