Mental Health Corner: A SAD Time of Year
Who would've thought that seasonal changes have such a large effect on people's motivation and mental health? Have you ever felt a sudden change in your mood, sleep schedule, and motivation as soon as the seasons change? You may have experienced what’s known as the “winter blues,” or in professional terms, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This change normally occurs early in the fall and could affect an individual until late spring. Shorter days and less sunlight exposure prove to be the big culprit in causing SAD. Research indicates that when the days grow darker, we naturally produce melatonin. In the case of those with SAD, the production of extra melatonin and reduced activity of the brain chemical known as serotonin, cause overall change in one's mood and energy levels. Symptoms include weight gain, oversleeping, lack of appetite, and feelings of hopelessness and stress. This disorder affects more than just one's mental and emotional health; it can also have a negative effect on relationships with loved ones and family. People with SAD already feel hopeless, so it is crucial that we are understanding and supportive of anyone suffering from this mental illness.
During the summer, a person can feel differently than how they felt during the winter. They may feel like the person who lived throughout the summer is a complete stranger. SAD affects the motivation and drive of students. Students with SAD tend to be too tired to focus during classes in school throughout the winter. Usually, there is a pattern with regards to grade drops in all of the classes.
Virtual learning can enhance SAD symptoms as students may have trouble concentrating at home and have a difficult time engaging in class. Children with SAD are usually treated with medication or some sort of light therapy or psychotherapy. It is also critical for parents or any other significant guardian to be involved in their child's treatment since it makes them feel much more comfortable knowing someone is there with them. SAD affects teens more often than we think. Raising awareness of it could help people seek appropriate help sooner, benefiting not only them but society and their families.