For some students at Keene State College, winter is a time to ski, snowboard and enjoy the abundant snow New England has to offer. For others with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), winter can be a dreaded time.
According to Mental Health America, four out of five people who have SAD are women, and the main age of onset of SAD is between 20 and 30 years of age, but it can happen earlier as well.
While some symptoms and effects of SAD are similar from person to person, it can vary between those affected, but according to the Mental Health America, the symptoms are often congruent with depression.
Senior Lexy Tiffany has been battling SAD for four to five years.
“I realized I wasn’t a huge fan because it wasn’t like when I was younger and you could just go out and play in the snow and stuff, but as I got older I didn’t as much,” Tiffany said.
While Tiffany hasn’t been officially diagnosed, her doctor has given her some insight about the disorder and how she can cope during the long winter months.
“She told me to exercise regularly and she recommended buying a lamp that gives off the same effect as the sun and it can put you in a better mood. It obviously doesn’t give off the sun’s rays, but it gives off Vitamin D,” Tiffany said.
When the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, students have to find different ways to keep busy.
“Sometimes if I find it is a little bit nicer out than usual, I will go for a walk outside with my dog or I try to get to the gym so I can try to get my mind off being bored or just the winter in general,” Tiffany said.
Summer has often been dubbed as a happier season because of the warm weather and long days of sunshine.
“I live right by the beach, so the summertime is awesome. Basically, I go to the beach when I have days off and it’s just warmer and everyone is just happier all the time, and in the winter I don’t ski or snowboard so the wintertime doesn’t really do much for me,” Tiffany said.
KSC senior Brittanie Clark’s diagnosis came in her sophomore year of high school when her parents noticed some behavioral changes.
“When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents noticed that I was having behavioral issues I guess you could say, so they took me to a therapist and that’s when I got diagnosed,” Clark said.
While winter is a common time for SAD to occur, it can happen in other seasons as well.
“Pretty much it happens in the wintertime mostly; it comes in waves. The fall, I will be really high and really low and then once spring and summer come around, it kind of goes away and it is more controllable,” Clark said.
It can often be difficult for people on the outside looking in at their friends suffering from SAD.
KSC student Rachel Merchant stated, “[My male friend], during college he went from social, funny, and outgoing to a hermit. He hardly left his room, hardly spoke to any of us and never turned his lights on. He would stay in bed all day, skip class and hid from us.”
Mary Curtin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org