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How Seasonal Depression Sneaks Up On Students

The days are getting shorter, afternoons becoming darker, and there’s a chill in the air that only the toastiness of your bed can soothe. It seems like just yesterday it was fall, and now it’s none other than winter — the season that leaves students and adults alike in a gloomy slump.

This is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a real and painful form of depression that comes around yearly.

Psychologists believe that the lack of sunlight exposure in the winter can actually change one’s brain chemicals and even throw off their internal clock. It doesn’t help that the body naturally creates more melatonin when when it’s dark, which can cause exhaustion and lethargy.

Common symptoms of SAD include feeling less social, lack of motivation for daily tasks, anxiety, increased appetite and weight gain. While anyone can suffer from this disorder, it primarily affects young adults like highschool and college students.

Students dealing with SAD may feel more unmotivated to study or do their work, letting the seasonal disorder not only affect their health but their academic performance as well. This lack of energy paired with social withdrawal can make any student’s school life extremely challenging.

According to the National Library of Medicine, tardiness in school peaked during the winter season. This is believed to be linked with photoperiod (day length in a light or dark period), and other weather conditions.

It’s encouraged to speak to a health professional to help combat SAD. Plenty of exercise, social outings and a general healthy lifestyle can help relieve symptons of SAD. Psychotherapy, light therapy, and in some cases antidepressants are also options offered if needed.

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