Uneasy feelings of sorrow during winter months may be more than just one being sad, it may be symptoms of seasonal affective disorder

By: Kaitlyn Germann (staff writer)

With the upcoming time change comes shorter hours of sunlight, and that can trigger  people to develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during winter time, leading to feelings of depression and hopelessness, though the disorder and its effects aren’t well known.  

A Kennedy parent remarked that for a while in her life, she felt rather uncharacteristically down during the winter months, something which she felt to be strange, as it was only during those months and there was no apparent reasoning as to why. Upon going to her doctor she was diagnosed with SAD, and her feelings began to make sense. Soon after being diagnosed, she was introduced to phototherapy, or light therapy, a significant part of treatment for SAD, which allows for the levels of vitamin D in the body to raise. She also notes that the symptoms of SAD had been incredibly more apparent to her at a younger age than they currently are. These symptoms, though varied, had and currently have a major effect on her life.

Typically due to lack of natural light and vitamin D, SAD is characterized as a depression which occurs at the same time annually. Cases of SAD most often start in early fall into the end of winter, though some do experience SAD during the summer and springs months. SAD affects around 6% of people in America annually, though an additional 14% develop winter blues, a less severe form of SAD.

In some other states the effects of SAD is even more prominent, as it gets dark even earlier, around 3pm, as opposed to around 7pm here; this is also true of places where it is very rainy and often cloudy, like Seattle.

Senior Paulina Villalobos remarks that the symptoms of SAD help her in seeing why a friend of hers feels very depressed and down during the winter months. Showing students’ lack of knowledge on SAD, Villalobos’s comment demonstrates why it is important for students to know about SAD and its debilitating symptoms.

Carrying over into the upcoming election, Proposition 7 deals with the issue of daylight savings time, and would make California not changing our clocks a possibility. This could help people with SAD in the way that it wouldn’t be getting dark even earlier in the afternoon, and allowing for even a bit more exposure to light would increase vitamin D levels, and, in turn, minimize the symptoms of SAD.

During the fall months, seniors are faced with college applications and standardized testing, SAD is just another thing which can make students fall even more behind and feel even more stressed. Awareness of SAD may help students cope with their issues and make sense of their feelings during the colder, darker months.