By Madilyn Loper
The sadness and unwillingness to get out of bed during the holiday season may not be just laziness or mood swings, it might be seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), more commonly known as seasonal depression, is a type of depression that is related to changes in the seasons. (Why have seasonal depression when you can have it all year round?) Seasonal affective disorder will start and end around the same time annually and in most cases start in the fall and continue into the winter months. People affected by this order may feel moody, irritable, or fatigued.
Seasonal affective disorder/ depression or anxiety can have large tolls on teens and young adults, affecting their performance in school. Depression can negatively impact their ability to learn and enjoy time in school and if ignored, it can lead to social and behavioral problems, poor learning skills, neglected hygiene, and low self esteem; unpredictable behavior is often a sign of anxiety and/or depression. My classmate, Cielo McClendon, said, “I notice I start to get more depressed during fall. It might be because of the weather, work, and school.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 34% of students experience depression. In 2017, 1-in-5 teenage girls (13%) and 7% of teenage boys had experienced at least one major depressive episode. The rates of anxiety and depression have risen since then, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Identifying this can be difficult because the way these disorders appear differ from person to person.
There are ways to treat seasonal affective disorder on your own at home. First, talk to a doctor or therapist; they can sort out whether its seasonal affective disorder or a different type of depression and can prescribe antidepressants.
To treat chemical imbalances like depression, you need to do more than just take medication. Spending time with people can help in the treatment process.
“Get off your phones and spend time with your friends in real life. Isolating yourself is the worst thing you could do,” a local therapist said.
You can participate in activities that improve your mood – for example, going out to a place like the mall or the movies or joining after-school activities like AEVIDUM to keep yourself busy. Freedom High School has an AEVIDUM club created to empower students to talk about mental health, suicide, and other issues that teens/youth face. It strives to create healthy communities where everyone is accepted, acknowledged, and cared for in schools. The advisor is Mrs. Schmidt and the meetings are held weekly, and they include fun games, snacks, and planning for field trips and conferences.
You can also try bright light therapy which is exposure to artificial light; you can try light therapy by purchasing a light therapy box. Vitamin D is a critical component to recovering from depression.
Overall, take care of yourself, try keeping a journal, and make sure you spend time with your friends and family because recovering is a little bit easier with the support of your loved ones.