[Nov. 2016 Features] SEASONAL BLUES–Moods fall with season’s change

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By Izzy Blansfield ’18

 

As it gets darker and the days get shorter and colder, some Staples students feel the blues.

“Every fall and winter I experience a major change in my overall well being. Sunshine is very uplifting to me and when winter comes around and it gets dark, my mood changes,” Charlotte Revelli ’18 said.

Some might associate changes in seasonal mood to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression, which is a subtype of depression that occurs when the seasons change—most commonly when the colder seasons approach. However, experts warn that not all seasonal blues qualify as SAD.

“A lot of people experience a sense of blues while the seasons are changing,” Westport psychiatrist, Joan Frimmers said, “but it’s not necessarily the same thing as having diagnosable seasonal depression.”

According to WebMD, people who have  seasonal depression often show symptoms  of  low energy, sleep problems, depressed and solemn feelings, difficulty concentrating and changes in appetite and weight.

“There are certain symptoms that have to be present for someone to be diagnosed with seasonal depression. If someone is just not feeling as light or up in the winter as they are in the spring and summer seasons, it’s not necessarily seasonal depression,” Frimmers said. “People love to be outside; it’s a response to the shorter days, but it’s not the same thing as having seasonal depression.”

Fifty-five percent of the 221 surveyed Staples students claim to experience the SAD symptoms, but only 6 percent of those students claim to have been diagnosed with seasonal depression.

“I think that the changing of the seasons really affects the Staples community dynamic. It really adds stress, causes sleep problems and, overall, ultimately affects students’ grades,” Donovan Ross ’18 said.  “A lot of students say that their worst grades are from the third quarter, which consists of January, February and March—the coldest time of year.”

Frimmers advises students who are experiencing seasonal blues to exercise and try cognitive behavioral therapy in order to make the transition smoother.

“If you find your mood is down during the shorter days, do any form of physical activity,” Frimmers said. “Physical activity gets your heart rate up which will have a chemical impact on the brain and help lift one’s mood.”

Ultimately, Frimmers advises those who may be experiencing symptoms of seasonal depression to stay optimistic, pointing out that “It’s not gonna be dark forever.”

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