Seasonal depression is a disorder that many deal with annually. Doctors describe it as the feelings of hopelessness, drowsiness, and unproductiveness that come with the changing of seasons. The sun begins to rise later and set sooner, and darkness lives not only outside, but also inside the minds of those who suffer from this debilitating disorder. This a description of how seasonal depression feels to one of its suffers. Roughly 3 million people deal with seasonal depression yearly, says mayo clinic. Teens are especially at risk, because they are aging into the time of their lives that seasonal depression can begin to take grip.
According to a study done by mayo clinic, before the age of 13 the typical number of people who deal with seasonal depression are slim to none. After the age of 13, the number of individuals affected skyrockets and continues to steadily increase throughout adulthood. This study shows that teenagers will begin to be affected by this disease. Students should understand the seriousness and commonality of seasonal depression. It can change someone’s life drastically if not treated, but with help and healthy choices, a person can be happy even throughout these troublesome months.
People can experience a wide variety of symptoms when affected by this common illness. They can go through changes with their mood, sleep, body and behavior. With the cloud of depression over someone’s head, one’s body can start to function differently. A change in the regular sleep schedule is very common for someone going through seasonal depression. A person suffering might start to sleep too much, too little or not at all. They might also be fatigued throughout the day even when they gotten enough sleep the night before. Another way the body may be affected is in a change of appetite. This can lead to weight gain or loss. People who suffer with this disorder may go through many changes around this time of year, because seasonal depression can take a toll not only the body, but also the mind.
When going through seasonal depression, a person’s mood and mind can change a lot. One could begin to feel anxiety, discontent, loneliness or sadness. Someone suffering may also lose interest in things they used to love. A sufferer will typically start to isolate themselves from social situations, which starts a cycle of depression and isolation. It can be hard to want to have fun when a suffer feels sad and upset, but going out and being around friends can actually help them feel better.
In the fall and winter, the sun shines less hours of the day and the weather outside is typically cold. The change in weather makes it harder to go outside, and leads to the decrease in sunlight the body can absorb. Seasonal depression is linked to the darkness and cloudiness of the cooler seasons. A remedy for seasonal depression is going outside or sitting in a window to soak up as much sunlight as possible. Another simple way to improve the mental health of a sufferer is to exercise. Exercise helps with self-care and leads to a sense of accomplishment when finished. These are more simple ways to help someone feel better, and they are not doctor prescribed treatments.
There are several more options that can serve as treatment. These include medicine; talk therapy, chronotherapy and light therapy. Light therapy helps by changing chemicals in the brain that help regulate mood and sleep. A patient will sit in a light box that gives off an artificial light that resembles sunlight. However, the light box is very time consuming and expensive. A patient will need to donate a large amount of time, as much as they can spare, and will need a high intensity lighting system. People will shy away from this, because of the time-commitment and cost. Another time-consuming, but helpful treatment can be talk therapy, which is where a patient talks through their thoughts with a professional in hopes of changing them. A therapy that elevates the cost of the previous treatments is chronotherapy. Which is going to bed later and later each night to try to reset one’s sleep schedule. Lastly, medicine prescribed by a doctor can help treat a sufferer’s depression. These could include antidepressants or other drugs.
Seasonal depression is a serious and debilitating disorder that can cause people’s mental and physical health to deteriorate, however with the right health choices it can be treated.