The List: Five ways to deal with seasonal depression

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, February 14th, 2019 at 8:29 AM

Seasonal depression, according to, “is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring.”  

Seasonal depression is also called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD affects 500K people in the U.S., according to the Cleveland Clinic, and 10-20 million people get a mild version of the winter blues. 

According to, symptoms include being depressed most of the day, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed and having low energy. While a form of summer SAD exists, it’s much rarer, with winter being the season that affects most people. Symptoms specific to winter SAD are oversleeping, change in appetite (“especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates”) weight gain and tiredness, according to Mayo Clinic. The cause of SAD is currently unknown; some theories are that less light messes with the internal biological clock, that chemicals in the brain change in those affected by SAD and that light helps, and that less light affects the amount of melatonin in the body. With Erie getting so much snow and less light in the winter, it’s good to know how to help curve the feelings caused by SAD, or to help with mild winter blues. 

1. Talk to a doctor or medical professional. If you continue to have bad days and lose interest in things, talk to a medical professional as SAD is a serious issue. CAPS is available to ‘Boro students at Ghering. 

2. Get as much light as possible. Light is currently the leading factor in theories on why SAD occurs. According to Dr. Kelly Rohan, professor and director of clinical training at University of Vermont, through “winter blues will be worst in the mornings when you’re rousing yourself from bed. She tells clients to open curtains as much as possible to get exposure to natural light right when the body is waking up.”

3. Get interested in winter activities and find a winter hobby. Finding something that you can do and get excited about in the winter will help you keep the winter blues away. 

4. Exercise. Exercise and the relationship with depression is currently debated, but the belief is that it can help. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Madhukar H. Trivedi, founding director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, has said that a robust body of evidence shows exercise improves depression. He has done many studies examining this question. 

“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” Dr. Micheal Otto, a professor of psychology at Boston University said. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise, you get a mood-enhancement effect.” Otto’s quote comes from a piece by The American Psychological Association. So exercise may help if you’re just dealing with the winter blues, but if you think you may be affected by SAD, talk to a medical professional. 

5. Stick to a schedule. Sticking to your schedule can help you get the sleep you need, which can help your mood. Also Rohan has stated, through, “You’ll feel better knowing you’re still making it to your weekly book club, basketball game or brunch with friends.”

Erica Burkholder |

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