Seasonal Depression at Latin


Eli Aronson Like it or not, it’s officially that time of year. We have now set our clocks back, which means the days of winter are upon us. For most of us, the sun will rise after we wake up for school, and set shortly after or before we get home. We are in the dog days of November. The temperature is turning cold, and skies are turning grey. If you are having more trouble waking up, having trouble focusing or feel a significant drop in your energy levels during the upcoming months of winter, you are not alone. In fact, according to the American Academy of Family Physician (AAFP), all three of these are symptoms for seasonal affective disorder (appropriately acronymed as SAD), also known as seasonal depression. I wondered how seasonal depression might affect some of us here at Latin, so I took a simple question to eight boys and eight girls in the freshman and sophomore classes to see how seasonal depression affects them. The question I posed was, “When the sky turns grey and the temperature drops, do you feel a change in your emotions or mood swings?” Out of the eight girls I asked, seven of them said they feel a mood swing or change in emotions more often during the winter months. All seven of the same girls mentioned that they felt more tired or depressed when the sun is not out. One girl said, “when the skies are grey and it looks gloomy and dark out, it drains my energy and makes me feel tired”. Interestingly, out of the eight boys I asked, only four of them said they felt affected by the seasonal changes. Just like the girls, however, the four who said they were affected felt it was the lack of sun that led them to feel more drained and tired. One boy who did not really feel affected emotionally by the sun had this to add “I don’t feel sad, but the dark sky definitely brings a more negative vibe”. Following my conversations with several classmates about this, I went back to AAFP to find some numbers to compare to mine. According to AAFP, about four to six percent of people in the United States may have a severe case of SAD each winter. More commonly, about ten to twenty percent of Americans may have a mild case of SAD each winter. It is important to note that several Americans live in warm weather states and do not have cold winters, so a lot of the causes for SAD are irrelevant to them. It is also notable that SAD is four times more common in women than men, a statistic that held true in the small sample size of people I asked in our Latin community. So, if you are feeling down this winter, some of the best things you can do are taking deep breaths, finding some light, natural or unnatural, and staying active to treat your winter depression.]]>