A season of sadness?
Students suffering winter blues
Ify Ossai | Collegio Reporter
Jeremy Donahue, like some students, finds it hard to wake up in the winter months. Unlike other students, Donahue’s problem stems from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year.
“In the winter months it gets really hard to hang out with friends,” said Donahue, senior in plastics engineering technology. “You always don’t feel up to it which causes a lot of depression.”
Sean Lauderdale, PSU psychology and counseling professor, says SAD isn’t taught as a mind issue but rather as a biological issue.
“It can be traced back to our natural biological rhythm and the notion that we need a certain amount of daylight,” Lauderdale said. “That, in turn, will eventually affect, to some degree, mood and functioning in general.”
According to Lauderdale, SAD is believed to be a biological disorder, so more than 50 percent of the treatment is biologically oriented. Lauderdale says one way to treat it is to expose the person to a high degree of light for certain periods of the day or certain days of the week, although anti-depressants can also be used for the treatment.
Lauderdale says the major treatment is exposure to some type of light and the whole body doesn’t have to receive the exposure.
“This has been found to be a pretty effective treatment of SAD,” Lauderdale said. “Though therapy can help with some of the mood-related issues, you really do need to have a biological treatment for SAD because the phenomenon is related to lack of adequate sun exposure.”
Lauderdale says SAD is most common along the northeast and northwest coasts because these places receive limited amounts of sunlight in the winter.
Vince Daino, director of campus recreation, says that they try to get people actively involved in the various programs offered at the recreation center, like basketball, racquetball and cardio activities because this lessens the effects of SAD-related depression.
“When people are working out and interacting with friends they are less moody as opposed to those who don’t do anything,” Daino said.
Daino says the variety of programs offered during the winter months helps people get over the winter blues and keeps them motivated, alleviating their depression.
Lucas Foster, senior in automotive technology, says he feels SAD-related symptoms in the winter months and he lessens the symptoms by interacting with his friends.
“There is less sunlight so it never seems to be a good time to do anything,” Foster said. “You just want to stay in the room and do nothing. I get over my SAD by interacting and doing lots of activities with a bunch of my friends to simulate the conditions of warmer months.”