Is Seasonal Depression Real?

Avneet Gil, Staff Writer

The winter season is coming up this year and although it is arguably the “best season” according to most people, it still has its ups and downs. The winter months are considered the months of celebrations and holidays for society, but for a large majority of people, winter is full of dark, cold, and depressing days. These people find themselves in depression during winter but as soon as winter ends, their depression fades away. So if you are questioning why you may be one of these people who get this temporary wave of sadness during this winter season, there is a high chance of you having seasonal depression. Seasonal depression is real and is commonly found in the cold seasons. So what is this seasonal wave of sadness?

According to the “National Institute Of Mental Health”, this type of depression is called “SAD” or “seasonal affective disorder”. This is similar to depression but it’s just seasonal and only occurs for a certain amount of time. I think that many people fall into this disorder because they start to feel down as the days get shorter in the fall and winter and the sun isn’t out as often. 

A majority of these people who fall into this seasonal depression try to get themselves out by trying to seek help. But the problem is that many people are not aware of this disorder. So when these people try to seek help from family members or friends, they often get told to “brighten up”, “cheer up”, “you’re being dramatic’,”that’s not depression.”, and many other similar statements. I think this can cause some of these people with SAD to believe that they are making this up and that they aren’t depressed and this causes them to lie to themselves and make themselves even worse. 

Although many people will argue that seasonal depression is fake and made up, I argue it is real and is not made up. About every year, SAD affects around 10 million Americans per year. 10-20% might have a mild case, but 80-90% have a more severe case. SAD is more likely to affect women four times than it is to affect men. SAD can start small, but the more you ignore it and the more you deny it, then it gets worse and worse. This is the exact reason why people need to know that SAD is very much real and can happen to anyone. 

From my perspective, I say that SAD can come from the lack of sunlight we receive in the winter. During the winter the Northern Hemisphere leans away from the sun, so there are fewer daylight hours and less amount of sun. This can lead to a lack of vitamin D which has symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, and symptoms of depression too. Another thing that I believe can cause SAD is shorter days. Studies have shown that shorter days can be linked to a chemical reaction in the brain leading to SAD. This shows that winter is the probable cause of SAD.

Symptoms of SAD can be a sad or anxious mood, feeling hopeless, fatigue, restlessness, difficulty with concentration, thoughts on suicide, and other symptoms of normal depression. I believe that SAD is similar to regular depression except for the fact that it is seasonal. 

Some of these symptoms do not mean that you have SAD. Likewise, not every person with SAD experiences these symptoms. In order to know for sure you have SAD, you have to keep track of it. Meaning, If you experienced SAD two seasons in the last two years or longer, you most likely have SAD. If you notice these symptoms happening to your loved ones, you need to seek help as soon as you can. Be aware of SAD and try to help yourself and others get through it as soon as you can because SAD is very much real and not made up.