“SAD” faces show Fall has arrived

Weather changes affect students academically and emotionally

Ceci Atkins, Staff Reporter
Originally published November 21, 2014

Cassin StacySeasonal Affective Disorder affects people during the winter months.

Cassin Stacy

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects people during the winter months.

As students unpack their rain jackets and wool sweaters, not only do they brace for the loss of daylight hours and many grey months ahead, but also for the melancholy feeling that comes with it.

Seasonal affective disorder is depression affiliated with the change in seasons. Most symptoms begin in the fall and linger on through the winter months. Many ignore this change of mood as “winter time blues,” or sometimes justifying it with the intensification of school and work load.

It’s no doubt that SAD impacts many students. According to KidsHealth, students’ grades drop around prime time SAD seasons. Not only that, students also show an increase of tardies throughout the winter months.

Some say the change in the weather just adds to the pile of reasons to be depressed, along with work, family issues and other anxiety wreaking events.

“Holidays, weather, the upcoming end of semester; these can all factor in as a cause of depression,” counselor Tom Kramer said. Kramer said that the change in weather is among the many reasons students may be stressed, anxious or depressed.

Dealing with any kind of depression can bring on high levels of anxiety, drowsiness, lack of drive or self purpose, as well as lack of appetite. Many whom are diagnosed with SAD try a new therapy called light therapy where bright spectrum light is shined into their eyes, while others use natural coping mechanisms to handle their depression.

“I take a lot of naps when I’m feeling depressed or stressed,” SLAM club leader senior Lindsay Fasser said. She later said that she also likes to vent to people at the end of the day, just to get it out of her system.

“Everyone manifests their response to the decreasing amount of light in different ways,” nurse Meg Carlson said. Carlson noticed changes in the staff during the “dark” winter seasons, saying staff can sometimes be “irritable, grumpy and anxious.”

Studies from the U.S. National Institutes of Health show that those who suffer from SAD sleep 2.5 hours more than those who don’t in the winter. Many students claim they experience distinct symptoms of SAD, and point the blame not specifically at the weather change but a combination of that along with the intensification of school work.

“School has a huge impact on students’ depression, not just the weather. Not only is it dark when you wake up and dark when you return home, but it [the change of weather] is around the time of finals; the stress slowly builds up until you’re at your breaking point,” sophomore Valerie Thomas said.

Thomas isn’t the only student who feels the work load has a greater impact on their moods than the weather. Many see the dark gloomy days as yet another reason in addition to the anxiety brought on by an increase in school work.

“It’s hard to be optimistic during the winter time when we’re deep in homework and surrounded by stormy weather,” Thomas said. Others blame the occurrence of holidays affiliated with depression

“I think that besides the weather, the holidays are very stressful because they [students] don’t have a lot of money to get their friends and family gifts,” Fasser said. “Also college applications are due around that time and that can be stressful.”