Seasonal depression likely to affect students
When zoology senior Amanda Ureña chose to go to college 2,221 miles away from Los Angeles where she grew up, she had to adjust to more than just being far away from her family and friends.
After winter struck her freshman year, she had to adjust to an entirely new climate, which brought on sadness and laziness — symptoms commonly associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
When the days get shorter and sunlight is at a minimum, college students are especially prone to depression-like symptoms caused by the lack of sunlight, said Dennis Martell, Olin’s health education services coordinator.
Mental Health America reports that 500,000 people are affected by the disorder nationally, and the 18-30 age group is hit the hardest.
Although Ureña has not been medically diagnosed with SAD, she said she experiences many its symptoms.
“Most college students spend a lot of time inside in classrooms or residence halls,” Martell said. “Because it’s cold, they’re not as likely to go outside, and (SAD) can affect college students more.”
The long, dark periods during the winter can spur the body to create more melatonin, which can lead to SAD symptoms, according to Mental Health America.
Although people often brush SAD off as a mental health non-issue, Martell said this mentality is false, and SAD should be taken seriously.
“It does sound to some people like a made up disorder, but it’s very real,” Martell said. “It’s not like you have Mono(nucleosis), it’s not like you have the flu where you can trace it to a bacteria. It’s changing the environment and how you look at the world.”
Advertising junior Sarah Strycker said she dreads the thought of winter’s arrival because of the SAD symptoms she encounters — feeling exhausted, groggy and downtrodden for no specific reason.
To stop her symptoms from taking control, Strycker takes preventative measures to keep a sunny mood despite the clouds.
“Obviously weather has a huge effect on how we feel,” Strycker said. “When I know winter’s coming, I try to begin yoga, I start exercising more and go tanning.”
To combat SAD, Martell suggests students get outside as much as possible or purchase lamps to increase natural light exposure. He also stressed the importance of seeking help at both Olin Health Center and the MSU Counseling Center for any depression symptoms, seasonal or not.