Understanding factors of SAD and seasonal depression is important

Written By Lauren Hunter, Staff Writer

The weather is getting colder, and the days are getting shorter. It is the time of turtlenecks and flannels, smoking American Spirits outside in the fog, and rereading those books that somehow perfectly encapsulate the feeling of autumn (i.e., Donna Tartt’s The Secret History). While it can be easy to romanticize fall and the transition into the holiday season, it can also be a time of anxiety for a lot of people. Our generation has become well-versed in the struggles of mental health, which is something I feel very proud of. Gen Z is removing this stigma around mental health and rather pushing for more advocacy of how much it can affect our daily lives. One of the things that is becoming more and more talked about is seasonal depression.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), more commonly known as seasonal depression, is defined as a type of depression that is directly related to the season. While it is possible to have SAD during spring and summer seasons, it is most common during the fall and especially the winter. Because the days get so much shorter, it is easy to find yourself falling down this well of sadness. It can feel so much easier to lose the motivation to push through the day, especially if you have an added diagnosis of generalized anxiety or depression.

Fall and winter can also be a lonely time for some people. This time of year is filled with holidays and spending time with friends, family and significant others. Sometimes if you don’t have those things, this time of year can feel especially lonely. Curling up under the covers and not leaving for hours on end feels more comforting than going out into the world and witnessing all those personal connections you feel you are missing out on. However, one thing I have been working on is personal love and self-worth. While having someone to share the holiday season with is nice, learning that it is just as nice to share in it with yourself has been a big step for me. Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Seasonal depression is more than just feeling a little bit down because it’s no longer warm and sunny out. While weather has a big impact on SAD, it is not the only determining factor. I think that spreading awareness of SAD starts with just compassion. A lot of times professors and parents and bosses will overlook it and say something along the lines of, ‘just don’t be sad! just get out of bed! you’ll feel so much better!’ The thing about depression is that it comes in waves. It can be extremely unpredictable, and if you don’t struggle with SAD it can help you to better understand and support the people around you.

While I love this season and everything that comes with it, it can feel easier to give into the depression rather than try to fight it. Honestly, I feel like the answer comes with a mixture of both. It is so important to listen to your body and if you need a day lying under the covers listening to Phoebe Bridgers and binging “New Girl,” do it. However, surrounding yourself with people and hobbies that you feel safe enough pushing yourself to do can be a great way to battle SAD and work on finding the small moments of happiness.