There have been many questions concerning the reality of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As a native to Michiana, SAD makes an incredible amount of sense. By December, we’ll be fighting with dreary skies, cold temperatures and lots of that white stuff (it’s supposed to be almost as bad as last year’s winter, but not quite). All this can wear down on a person despite the merriment of the upcoming holiday season, especially college students who already have a multitude of responsibilities bogging them down such as essays, work, family and finals. These only help to further the effects of SAD, yet there are many ways for students to push against and work through the winter blues.
Many people believe SAD is caused due to the lack of sunlight experienced during the winter months. One way of confronting this problem is with light therapy through a full-spectrum light box that mimics the sun, but commonly without those dangerous UV rays. Despite the cost (often between $100-$500), light boxes are found to be effective in many cases, and are widely considered to be very safe. If a light box sounds like too much work, Memorial Hospital is currently offering sun therapy through March.
A cheaper and more attractive option for students would be tanning. By immersing yourself in a tanning booth for even just five minutes, it’s possible to experience all-over warmth with the bright lights, as well as gaining a healthy bronze glow for much cheaper than a light box. Although this sounds appealing, tanning beds can ultimately be more detrimental in the long run due to the harmful effects of UV rays.
Exercise and Diet
Consistent exercise and a healthy diet can help alleviate depression. Exercising releases those feel-good endorphins, ultimately causing a more positive, up-beat mood. Exercise will also help to relieve stress and promote better sleeping habits. The Student Activity Center at IUSB is open for students on a regular basis, and there are plenty of classes available to help create an active lifestyle.
A healthy diet, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a minimal amount of carbohydrates and meats, can help maintain a better mood and overall energy. People experiencing SAD will tend to desire more carbohydrates, along with sugary snacks as a temporary relief from the depression, yet these forms of snacks can make the depression worse over a long period of time.
When all else fails, talking to someone is always a great answer. Whether it be friends, or someone at the IUSB Counseling Center, there is always someone willing to help out and get things back on track, even if it’s only a winter problem.