By Parker Reed, Staff Writer
Why did the alarm go off when it’s still dark outside? The early morning cracks like an egg on my head, concealing my eyes and trickling off my chin into a pool of lethargy without enough daylight to mark the line between day and night.
As a result of variations in light exposure, the American Psychiatric Association ties Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to fluctuating melatonin and serotonin levels, which are hormones that control sleep and mood, as well as affected circadian rhythms, which is the body’s sleep-wake clock.
If you notice substantial changes in your mood and behavior as the seasons change, and as daylight savings takes place, that are affecting how you feel, think, and go about your everyday activities, you may be experiencing SAD, a type of depression.
“I have seen many students in my time struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder” vocalizes Mary Kay Fiore, NPHS’s physcologist. “They demonstrate signs of depression, things like being tired, lack of energy, low motivation, poor mood. And a lot of it is tied to the lack of daylight or exposure to the sun, which creates a deficiency in serotonin and melatonin.”
Serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that helps regulate mood, may be decreased in those with SAD. Sunshine controls the amounts of chemicals that assist in maintaining normal serotonin levels, but in people with SAD, this regulation is impaired, resulting in reduced serotonin levels in the winter. Melatonin is also diminished in people coping with SAD, considering that melatonin is widely affected by light.
Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone generated by the pineal gland in response to darkness, and the production can be disrupted by being exposed to light late at night. You should thank your parents for taking your phones away when you were younger, because the effects light has on your melatonin creation disrupts your sleep schedule. This explains why so many people with SAD always feel tired and inert.
“I always feel tired and exhausted from repeating the same day over and over again. I feel robotic, just trying to get through each day, through the motions.”Anonymous
“School escalates my seasonal depression to begin with, but it being winter means it is cold and gloomy 24/7, makes me not want to get out of bed or interact with society” remarks an anonymous Junior at NPHS. “I always feel tired and exhausted from repeating the same day over and over again. I feel robotic, just trying to get through each day, through the motions.”
The life of a student in the winter season can feel repetitive and monotonous since we wake up in darkness, go to school, and come home just as the sun is beginning to set. While we do get a break from our tedious schedule’s on the weekends, it somehow never feels like an adequate break. It can feel like the life of a dead plant; dead plants are always trying to persevere through being past the point of no return, attempting to straighten out and grow again, but no matter how many weekends we get to replenish, or how much water a dead plant gets, we never fully grow back to our true selves.
“As I am getting older, and learning of the true expectations, and realities of the holidays, the holidays are no longer as magical as they used to be,” remarks Nylla Gullickson, a sophomore at NPHS, “And these actualities make me reminisce on the past, and makes me sad to think about, which is definitely a major trigger for my seasonal depression.”
“I feel like a lot of people say, oh seasonal depression, yeah I get it in the winter, constantly, so it has become normalized.” comments Nylla. “But too many people are glorifying it by simply saying they are sad and joking around about it, because being depressed and having depression is different. I feel like the boy who cried wolf, amongst many “boys”, since everyone is claiming to have seasonal affective disorder since it has become something mixed up with winter blues.”
Living in a society where depression, and having mental health problems is something people speak about arrogantly because of simple lack of education. Social media and just everyday mundane relationships, glorify these topics since people idiotically are just so influenced by what other people say. They don’t recognize the capacity of their words. As you walk by many conversations you can hear various variations of sayings like “I am so depressed,” “I wanna kill myself,” and things along these lines, that should never be made into a joke, which elucidates why many people don’t feel comfortable enough to talk about the way they are feeling in fear of not being taken seriously.
“There are general coping strategies that can be helpful like finding time to get outside and exercise” advises Ms. Fiore. “Doing things that are of interest to you, and something that will motivate you is the best way to try and face your SAD, head on, and say ‘I see you, but I am gonna try and not let you disrupt my day’.”
What is important to consider when dealing with SAD is the effect of your surroundings and how you choose to live your life. Learn your mental capabilities and learn how to say no. You know your limits; don’t feel pressure to participate in social activities because of what others will say or what you think their expectations are. It is also crucial to recognize your expectations and advantageous qualities in your life.
“I try to find positive things in my life, even when I feel at my worst” anonymous concludes. “Doing the most simple things like listening to music, going to dance, or just as simple as sitting with my dog has proven to be beneficial in the way I view winter and the challenges it brings along.”