Dec 082011
 
Authors: Sabrina Norwood

For most students, being sad is a normal emotion. But SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a serious disorder that isn’t easy to overcome.

SAD, a form of depression, has symptoms that occur usually during winter months when the days are shorter and less sunlight is available.

“It is thought that the decrease in exposure to sunlight affects the brain’s
processing of certain chemicals like serotonin, which is linked to mood regulation and melatonin,” said Janelle Patrias, coordinator of Mental Health Initiatives at the CSU Health Network, said in an email to the Collegian.

But, when the weather begins to change and the days become longer and more sunny,
the symptoms of SAD slowly fade away, until the following winter.

“Even though it is cold, having the sun out definitely makes the winter easy
to cope with,” said sophomore construction management major Chris
Marchese. “When the sky is grey it makes everything more depressing.”

While anyone can be affected by SAD, females are four times more likely than
males to develop the disorder. And symptoms often develop in teens and
young adults.

“Most people do not get Seasonal Affective Disorder,” Patrias said. “Also symptoms of SAD are different and more pronounced than a bit of the ‘holiday blues.’”

SAD only effects approximately 1-2 percent of the US population.

Unfortunately, living in northern and colder climates, including Colorado, increases the possible risk.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include mood changes, excessive sleep,
overeating, changes in energy, less time spent socializing, difficulty concentrating and lack of enjoyment.

“The cold weather has little effect on me, but I do try to sit in the sun a
lot,” said junior human development and family studies major Kathleen
Kubida. “The sun certainly gives me a more positive feeling.”

Possible preventions of SAD include any regular “mood boosting” activities.

“Eat well, develop a regular sleep routine, spend time with caring friends
and family,” Patrias suggested. “Practice good self-care, do not isolate
yourself and exercise regularly.”

All forms of depression are potentially serious and can be effectively
treated. Seek help if you think you might be experiencing depression.

Students who believe they may be experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to
contact the CSU Health Network’s Counseling Services located in Aylesworth Hall, or call (970) 491-6053.

Collegian writer Sabrina Norwood can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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