Spring blooms new beginnings after a dark and gloomy winter


Seasonal Affective Disorder–otherwise known as seasonal depression. If you haven’t felt the effects of the winter blues, consider yourself lucky. More often than not, people deal with seasonal depression every season, and more specifically during the winter.

According to a Boston University study, over 10 million people struggle with seasonal depression every year. In a nutshell, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depressive disorder in which a certain season makes an individual feel generally unwell. Typically, the winter is the main culprit of seasonal depression.

The science of seasonal depression pertains to the lack of sunlight and shorter days that the winter presents. Senior Tristan Wasserman talked about his experiences with seasonal depression, and how it differs from “regular” depression.

“Typically it is a very slow change as the weather gets colder,” Wasserman said. “Your mood begins to sway with it and eventually dwindles down to a desolate hopelessness or longing for the warmth to come back.”

He continued to talk about his personal struggles with seasonal depression, and how it can tend to linger even after the winter is over. The main theory is that as soon as spring comes along, seasonal depression leaves naturally, but that is not always the case.

“Yes, it can be more hopeful at times as it starts to get warmer, and it teases new beginnings all around,” Wasserman said. “You have to wonder if that could be for you too. But other times it’s just really rainy and washes all of that away; it can certainly prolong the feelings.”

Spring typically helps the mood fade, but as Wasserman said, gloomy days in the spring and even the summer can take the individual right back to square one. 

It is difficult to determine whether one has seasonal depression compared to the general depressive disorder, but there are certain things that distinguish the two from each other. Seasonal Affective Disorder likely goes away after a few months, but, upon paying attention to it, it may become a recurring event as the years go on. Usually, if one gets the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder at the same time of the year for two or three years, it is safe to say they should talk to their doctor about it. 

The effects of general depression are the same as ones of seasonal depression. Fatigue, mood swings, desire to isolate from everyone else, and intrusive thoughts are many symptoms of depression that can also be seen in Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Darkness and isolation go together very well, which makes seasonal depression that much more common and easier to slip into. It is certainly not an enjoyable experience, but there are things that have a chance of helping an individual’s mental health in the winter.

Heather Fox talked about how she combats seasonal depression and the shorter, darker days. 

“I took vitamin D and it really helped,” Fox said. “I think it did make a difference because life is always going to give you fits.”

As Fox said, life is always going to be tough, and depression will sneak its way in and out of events, but seasonal depression is a different beast. Things like Vitamin D supplements and light therapy can help to curb the “cabin fever” that one feels in the winter. 

Although it’s particularly difficult to find the difference between the two, it is undeniable that depression is not a fun thing to go through. Just like any other depressive episode, it is a complex disorder that can easily take over a person’s life. It can be terrifying to feel the effects of the winter blues, but for many, spring brings new opportunities and hope.

Spring, in many peoples’ opinions, is inherently better than winter. The beautiful flowers, the sunny skies, birds chirping when you first wake up. It gives people a reason to get out of bed and hope for a new day. Many people don’t have a real reason to get up–or at least not a meaningful one that they know of. 

Seasonal depression is a disorder that can tend to be relentless at times, but it is manageable. By using things like light therapy and vitamins, it can easily improve one’s mental state. The hope of spring weather can make everything better.

Wasserman gave some lasting advice on how to get over seasonal depression, if it’s even possible.

“I think the best thing to do would be to seek out other people and stay in contact,” Wasserman said. “The easiest thing to do is let those dark feelings take hold of you and let them isolate you from others, but at the same time finding what you’re passionate about can help to keep the motivation alive.”

Simply talking to people can help a person dealing with seasonal depression feel like they’re stepping back into reality. 

Additionally, things like outdoor activities or just being outside can almost instantly improve a person with seasonal depression’s mood. People like Wasserman and Fox shed light on the situation and how difficult it can be to get through it. They have worked to figure it out and live with it. 

Heather Fox has been through many things throughout her life, and has plenty of experience as to how to deal with her seasonal depression. Things like vitamins and stepping outside and touching the grass with her bare feet helps her move forward. 

Although winter can be beautiful, it can make people feel generally down. Pretty snow and Christmas can be absolutely breathtaking, but the cold makes it terrible to some. The time change that comes along with daylight savings time makes people feel like their days are just repeating themselves. 

The thing that gets people with seasonal depression is the timing. Shorter, darker days call for less socializing, and often leads to isolation. Isolation leaves people with their thoughts, which is almost never ideal. 

The same Boston University study talks about the frequency of seasonal depression and how easy it is to feel the effects of seasonal depression without technically having the disorder. General loss of interest in everyday things makes it difficult to determine whether it’s truly seasonal depression or, as insensitive as the phrase is, “just a phase”.

“How can you predict who’s at a greater risk than others for this?” the study said. “One of the troubles of the light therapy is it varies a little bit from person to person, from researcher to researcher.”

Seasonal depression, as common as it may be, is studied very little. It is hard to determine how seasonal depression biologically messes with a person, but one thing is for sure: it does not make people feel very good.

It is also hard to say whether seasonal depression will ever have the ability to be studied further. Much like many other psychological disorders and illnesses, there is little to no way of knowing just how it affects the brain. The brain of a mentally ill person compared to that of a “healthy” one is not particularly stark in comparison.