The transition out of fall and into a very cold, dark and gloomy winter for five to six months can make it much harder to get out of bed for an early class. This drastic season change can also be more serious for some students with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D.



Are You S.A.D.?

Mayo Clinic says that S.A.D. is a type of depression that negatively affects your mood during the change of seasons. Some symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sluggish
  • Irritable
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of depression or negativity
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight changes, etc.

If you think you relate to any of these symptoms at times during the winter months, you may be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Don’t worry, though, because you are not alone. It’s more common than you may think: 10 million Americans are affected by SAD each year


Ways to Help: 

1.  Stick with your original routine. A schedule can help you stay organized, busy and on track.

2.  Maintain a workout schedule.

3.  Keep up with a healthy diet. Foods such as fish, lean meats and berries are shown to help alleviate symptoms of S.A.D.

4.  Make your personal space at home bright and welcoming with brighter light bulbs, candles, oil diffusers, string lights, a lamp, etc.

5.  Try meditation or yoga to calm the mind and body (there are a lot of free apps out there to help you get started).

6.  Get out of the house, even if it’s just to go on a Target run or grab coffee with a friend.

7.  Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at a decent hour each night and wake up at a decent hour each morning. This will help regulate the body and ensure that you are getting enough rest.

8.  Talk to friends and ask for help when you need someone to talk to.

9.  Limit sugar intake. Sugar can slow down your brain and make the symptoms of S.A.D. appear worse.

10.  Try out a winter sport or hobby such as learning to ski or snowboard.

11.  Seek medical help when you feel that you need professional advice.

If you feel you need more help and guidance regarding your symptoms, or if they become severe, WSU Counseling and Wellness Services can help. Make an appointment by calling 507.457.5330 or 507.457.5610 to access services, such as light therapy, management of medication, or other services you may need this winter season!



Potential Causes of S.A.D.

According to Mayo Clinic, there are no specific reasons someone can be affected by S.A.D., but some factors include:

  • Biological clock changing with shorter days
  • Serotonin levels are affected and drop because of reduced sunlight
  • Melatonin levels change because sleep and mood patterns are off


How S.A.D. Can Affect You or Your Friends

S.A.D. can affect anyone. It affects different people at different levels of severity, and in different ways.

According to Mayo Clinic, women are at a much higher risk of experiencing S.A.D. than men and occurs more frequently in young adults.

I often find myself in the winter saying, “Why do I live in Minnesota where it’s so darn cold?” Sometimes during the winter months I feel unmotivated to go to class or the gym and feel too tired to do anything but lay around and binge-watch Netflix all day. I personally notice that my sleep schedule feels different because of how dark it gets earlier in the afternoon and how dark it is in the morning when I wake up.

What might seem like just a bad day might actually be symptoms of S.A.D., or it could in fact be just a bad day. Knowing how to cope with the change of seasons and how to help yourself or a friend struggling with S.A.D. can help. Take care of yourselves this winter, Warriors!


Updated by Hailey Seipel (11/08/2019)