By: Zoe Ermatinger
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE IS SUPPOSED TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH AND FIND WAYS TO COPE. THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO SELF DIAGNOSE OR SELF MEDICATE.
Seasonal affective depression (SAD), or seasonal depression, is a type of depression that is related to seasonal change. In more often cases, seasonal depression starts in early fall but can sometimes manifest in spring or early summer. Seasonal depression takes a toll on everyone’s mental health but it can be especially hard for teenagers. Today I am going to cover the common symptoms, ways to take care of yourself and how to treat SAD.
Seasonal depression symptoms are different for everyone and are always changing. The most common symptoms are disrupted sleep and unusual fatigue, difficulty to concentrate and to follow along in school, social withdrawal and getting exhausted in social settings quickly. Seasonal depression can also cause loss of appetite, oversleeping or extreme insomnia, avoidance of social situations, irritation and finally, anxiety.
These symptoms are caused by reduced vitamin D, which explains why SAD shows up after seasonal changes. Disrupted sleep schedules and reduced serotonin are also common causes for seasonal depression.
On a more medical point of view, there are easy ways to help treat SAD at home. Vitamin D supplements aren’t enough to completely cure you and are not going to make you burst with happiness all of a sudden, but they do help to balance your “happy hormones” and help address the lack of vitamins found in your brain. Vitamin D supplements are usually inexpensive and are recommended by doctors so they are a great and safe option.
Another treatment recommended by doctors is light therapy. Light therapy came from the idea that seasonal depression is a result of lack of exposure to light, so, logically, getting more light can reverse the effects. Light stimulates the hypothalamus, which is a small organ that releases hormones that help in increasing serotonin. By sitting in front of a lightbox for 20 to 60 minutes every morning, you help activate the hypothalamus and create a higher dose of serotonin.
Reviews say that light therapy definitely will not cure your SAD but it will help reduce your symptoms and forge an easy path to recovery.
Having days where you feel down is normal but if you experience these symptoms on a daily basis and if you feel down for days at a time, you should seek help. Anything from reaching out to a peer or seeing your doctor can do the trick but you have to know what is best for you. Spending quality time with yourself or with others can also help you feel better. It’s important to spend time outside and to continue doing the small things that you like. Stimulating your mind is the best way to reduce stress and anxiety and lead to a feeling of well-being. I know it can be hard to get up and be motivated but we all have to keep trying!
If anyone is dealing with mental health issues or crisis it is important to reach out for support from school counsellors or other professionals. No one should face these issues alone.
Mental Health Resources provided by FHCI:
Mental Health and Well-Being Resources provided by the TDSB: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/In-Person-Learning/Resources-During-Covid-19
Kids Help Phone: 1 800 668 6868