Wake Up From Winter Depression


March is tough.
Winter blues dig in, and the warmth and sunshine of spring still feels forever away. No upcoming holidays, but plenty of work piles that weigh down both backpacks and brains. March is a perfect time for a mental health tune up. Each year in the wintertime, around 7.1 percent of the U.S. population is affected by seasonal depression, and a large percentage of that are teenagers. Seasonal affective disorder, as it’s formally called, or SAD for short, is a kind of depression that can last from late fall to early spring in most cases. According to the National Institutes of Health, a common cause of SAD can come from shorter days and the lack of daylight, which throws off the body’s natural cycles and rhythms for sleeping. All hope is not lost, however, as there are plenty of helpful cures to combat SAD. One surprisingly obvious cure a doctor can recommend is called light therapy or phototherapy, where patients sit in front of a bright light box about a foot wide for 30 minutes a day to recharge themselves and simulate the bright light of the sun. These boxes emit very specific, powerful lights however, so just taking the shade off of your lamp and staring directly into it is not recommended. For those with less severe cases or normal winter stress, getting outside as much as possible during the sunlight hours can keep Vitamin D levels high, especially as it warms up over the course of March. As spring sports start up as well, more opportunities to spend time actively open up, but activities as simple as going for a quick walk can also help get the blood flowing. “I force myself to do more things in the winter, and hang out with friends as much as I can,” sophomore Jilali Benjdid said. Doing activities or having conversations with friends, family, and others is an excellent way to stave off the winter blues. So as winter draws to a close, be sure to be aware of how SAD you feel, and reach out to others if it’s starting to feel like too much.