Seasonal Affective Disorder awareness

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly known as seasonal depression used to be identified as a disorder primarily seen in people in their 20’s. However, it is becoming very relevant among teenagers. SAD affects around 10 million people annually, and that number is growing. It specifically targets people who live in the north or places with four seasons, like Minnesota. For those who may not know, SAD is a type of depression that changes your mood during the same time every year. It also tends to correlate with the changing of seasons.

For the majority of patients, SAD begins in the early fall and lasts through the spring. Possible reasons for this include the reduction of daylight time, snow/cold weather causing people to stay in their houses more, school, less exercise, and the holidays. Symptoms of Fall/Winter SAD include lack of energy and motivation, crying spells, oversleeping, fatigue, overeating, anxiety, depression, and weight gain.

While fall/winter is the most common time period for SAD, the spring/summer time period does affect around 10% of people with the disorder. Possible reasons for this include the length of the daytime, the lack of scheduling/routine that summer provides for people, specifically teens who are at home, the heat triggering stress or trapping you inside your house with the AC on, and body insecurities brought out through peeling off the layers worn all winter and trading them in for minimal summer clothing. Spring/summer SAD symptoms include weight loss, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decrease in appetite, anxiety, and depression.

SAD is something that goes away, but always creeps back. It is a disorder that people live with and at times have to struggle through. However, there are ways to succeed and persevere with SAD in order to live life the way you want to. Tips for people dealing with SAD vary, the key is trying out different strategies and using resources to find what is best for you. Planning ahead is an important factor to beating you SAD whether it be in the spring/summer or fall/winter time period.

You know when you will have to endure your SAD symptoms, so think about your weaknesses and previous failures, or worries, during this time in the past, and come up with ways to help lessen these challenges. Talk to someone. This could be a teacher, counselor, therapist, friend, coworker or family member. Confiding in others can provide emotional support and offer you an outside perspective on your situation.

Getting active is another tool. Exercise helps your confidence, health, and hormones that control your emotions. Another way to control the imbalance of your hormones are anti-depressants for those who aren’t opposed to the medication route.

Individually, you may explore and find stress relievers, specifically, hobbies that could help you cope with your SAD. Don’t overlook any positive strategy. Everyone is different and something that may work for someone won’t work for the next. This is a trial and error process.

If you have been diagnosed with, or may have SAD, or know someone who needs help with issues relating to depression, there are free resources provided to help you in order to take steps toward improving your life.

Highland Senior High Schoolers can talk to teachers, the nurse, their counselor, or the therapist in the clinic.

Outside of school resources include:

For Minnesota funded 24/7 confidential crisis counselors go to http://txt4life.org or text LIFE to 61222

For the 24/7 national depression/suicide prevention hotline call 1-800-273-8255

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