Seasonal depression is another term of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a type of depression commonly triggered by the diminishing daylight in winter. From the research, it was found that many college students in northern latitudes are more likely to develop SAD. This kind of depression usually manifest in late fall or early winter and may continue for several months.
College students and seasonal depression
Many college students experience SAD in the fall and winter season leading to their academic and social stressors. The symptoms of depression are then formed in more severe degrees such as extreme fatigue, hopelessness, social isolation, and changes in appetite. Also, 80 percent of college students who exhibit symptoms of SAD are women.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Keep in mind that SAD is different from winter blues in which the symptoms likely lead to short-term effects such as temporary lethargy and sadness. SAD has more severe symptoms, such as:
● Intense irritability or sadness
● Extreme fatigue
● Changes in appetite and eating habits
● Difficulty concentrating
● Feeling worthless
● Withdrawal from society
● Thoughts of suicide Make sure to check yourself if you have any of these symptoms especially that happen during fall or winter season.
Main causes of seasonal depression
Diminishing daylight can affect our bodies in many ways such as impacting our hormone production. And here are the most common reasons of college students experiencing seasonal depression:
During late fall or early winter, the lower exposure to the sun can affect brain’s chemistry leading to changes in mood and behavior.
Vitamin D deficiency
Reduced exposure to the sun also causes vitamin D production, in which this vitamin is vital to the release of serotonin. Vitamin D deficiency during winter in college students can also be caused by late-night studying or socializing.
High risks factors for seasonal depression
As mentioned earlier that Seasonal Affective Disorder happens mostly to women even in college. Also, the farther north you live, the more likely you are at risk of experiencing seasonal depression. Other factors of high risk of SAD include genetics, mental health condition, and location along with the weather.
Best treatments for seasonal depression
SAD or seasonal depression may be inevitable sometimes especially to those who are at high risk. However, there are treatments you can get if you experience SAD such as light therapy. Light therapy is the standard treatment in a form of spending 30 minutes or so in front of a 10,000-lux light box. It is most commonly done in the morning to replace missing daylight.
The spectrum of the lamp mimics the natural sunlight. Hence, it affects brain chemical in similar manner. From various studies, it was reported that light therapy can relieve the symptoms of seasonal depression significantly after a few weeks of treatment.
Other treatments for SAD include cognitive behavioral therapy and medications. It is also strongly recommended to ask for help if you experience the symptoms of SAD. Reach out to in-campus counselling of your school or call Depression and Suicide Prevention Hotline.