The winters are getting warmer, but students still can’t seem to shrug the winter blues.
Yes, you may have put on a few pounds as the nights draw in and are facing cold winter mornings that feel like getting up for university is a mission to Everest. But is it just the winter blues or something else?
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Every year, more people are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or Seasonal depression.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include sleeping and eating more, unlike regular cases of depression where sleep and food are recorded as less and is recorded as affecting three times more women than men and often is worse in the years.
Research done by the Royal College of Psychiatrists shows that those further away from the equator suffer more, with the cause being simply – a lack of daylight.
The good news is that mild seasonal depression is normal and only 1 in 100 suffer severely from the condition with it affecting their everyday lives.
Although if you’re tired continuously, you run the risk of doing less. This can lead to symptoms worsening which can cause overeating. This can lead to stress from lacking motivation and being irritable.
[Image: hannah K – Flickr]
A long term sufferer and student, who wishes to remain anonymous, offers some home truths about the condition.
“I think and it just kind of makes me more conscious about my mood swings, eating habits and being over tired and not being able to focus.”
“In terms of self-help I try to stay as busy as possible to keep my mind off thinking too much or being tired.”
Not all suffer from S.A.D.
Although some students are suffering from ‘seasonal depression’, a majority aren’t. Many students are just suffering from that extra mince pie and the emptiness of their bank accounts.
The fact is, that around the holiday period everyone has a bout of the winter blues and no one knows what to do with themselves. So here’s a few tips to staying positive.
5 tips to stop that sinking feeling:
- FAMILY & FRIENDS. If you feel like you can’t talk to them, just make sure you’re around them. Many people find it hard to interact with people when they’re feeling low, often becoming reclusive in the latter winter months. But this is not the way forward.
Make a conscious effort to interact with people, even if you don’t want to.
- FOOD. With Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s proven that people with the condition are likely to eat more and in fact, over eat. But try to stay healthy, even when your mind wanders to the ‘comfort food’ you bought, resist the carbs and stodgy foods. Pack your diet with Vitamin D, the healthier you eat the more energy you will have and the better you will feel.
Don’t forget to treat yourself, allow yourself one day a week where you give in to your carb temptations.
- KEEP WARM. Those winter mornings stretching into December may not be as cold as they were three years ago but keeping warm is essential to a happier you. Research has shown that through keeping yourself warm the winter blues are reduced by half, so it’s an excuse to get yourself down to the nearest retail sale and treat yourself to a new scarf, blanket or that coat you’ve been eyeing up all month.
- GET OUT. Daylight is your friend! When getting up on those teeth chattering mornings and making the run to the shower feels like blasphemy, make yourself get up and get outside for as long as you can. Walking for up to 30 minutes can increase blood flow and is good exercise that will release the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, stopping fatigue and reducing depression.
Of course, sometimes betraying your warm bed or heated hose isn’t an option, so at times like these, sit near a window – they’re your best friend. Ideally let in as much natural light as possible as S.A.D can be reduced through daylight.
Alison Kerry from the mental health charity, MIND has said that “one theory is that light entering the eye causes changes in hormone levels”…”It’s thought that SAD sufferers are affected by shorter daylight hours in the winter” the people with SAD produce higher melatonin which causes symptoms of depression. (NHS, 2013)
- HOBBIES. Every student loves the satisfaction of accomplishing something, and actively learning a new hobby will decrease negative feelings. Why not put those left over pieces of your assignment to use and create some fun paper chains to hang up.
For more information on Season Affective Disorder visit http://www.sad.org.uk/.