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Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness 2021

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Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness 2021

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This article mentions seasonal affective disorder, eating disorders, depression, and suicide. Viewer discretion is advised. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, please visit the Mental Health America website for help. 

As daylight savings ended, days have become shorter and darkness seeps in earlier. Some people enjoy these seasonal changes as they can cozy up with some hot chocolate and read a good book, while others struggle with the gloomy weather. People who have seasonal affective disorder, a type of clinical depression, especially struggle with the shorter amount of sunlight and colder weather that tends to happen in the autumn. This happens for many people during the fall and winter seasons, for various reasons.

“From my experience, seasonal affective disorder is essentially when my mood gets really low, and how I experience the world changes from season to season,” Southwestern junior Sophia Neumann explained. “My mood gets especially low during winter. Sometimes, for me, it’s in the summer that gets me down.”

Seasonal affective disorder is very common. The disorder impacts ten million people, and five percent of Americans experience it. There are signs of seasonal affective disorder, which you can read about at the National Institute of Mental Health. Sometimes, peoples’ moods can be negatively affected by the holidays. 

“I think that when anything bad happens when my seasonal affective disorder affects me, it is heightened, which just makes me feel worse,” said Neumann. “I have noticed as daylight savings ends, I have become depressed. I am doing an IOP now for various reasons. When I go home from my program at around 5:30 p.m., and it’s dark already, that has made me gloomy and has made me want to isolate myself.” 

 IOP stands for intensive outpatient program, which “provides an opportunity for people who are recovering from a mental illness to continue their recovery, offering group therapy for men and women with depression, anxiety, substance abuse or other mental health issues,” according to Ascension Seton Behavioral Health Care.

Because the disorder happens seasonally, a psychiatrist is only able to make a confident diagnosis after a couple of years. People who live in colder climates, such as the Northern United States, are more likely to develop S.A.D. Young adults, especially women, are more affected by the disorder, as well. 

“I am from outside of Seattle, Washington, and I think that I developed [seasonal affective disorder] there because it rains a lot. December to February is usually when I get it then, and then from when I get out of school in the summer, I usually get depressed.”

Common treatments for seasonal affective disorder include light therapy, aromatherapy, talk therapy, increased exercise activity, and medication. It is currently unclear what causes seasonal affective disorder. Researchers believe that it may have to do with Vitamin D intake, the way someone’s brain regulates chemicals, or both, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 

Regardless of the reasons, it’s important to remember there are many resources for those with seasonal affective disorder.

“There is therapy, there is IOP, there is PHP (partial-hospitalization program) residential mental health treatment programs, and inpatient programs,” Neumann said. “I want people to know that you’re not alone.” 

There are resources on seasonal affective disorder, including these websites. National Institute on Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration

Mental Health America 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Trevor Project 

Crisis Text Line 

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