Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a mood disorder which should not be confused with other types of depression. Many people are affected in some way by the changing seasons, but people who suffer from SAD have a greater sensitivity to the lack of light in the winter. This may impact some students who were born and raised or have lived considerably from an entirely different weather/setting (i.e. US states that has normally warmer weather; or tropical, dry and arid countries, etc.) and are now living in a much different location/setting for a considerable long period of time. Some students are able to break this cycle by visiting or going home during breaks and holidays.

The key indicator of SAD is "seasonality". "Seasonality" is when the symptoms are persistent, but tend to come and go year after year at approximately the same time. Usually symptoms will appear sometime in the fall and will remit sometime in the spring. The time when a person's season begins and ends varies with the individual. Some other main symptoms of SAD are a change in appetite (especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods), drop in energy level, change in sleep/wake patterns (especially a tendency to oversleep), decreased creativity, irritability, and inability to complete tasks.

When some students are unable to visit or go home, one possible treatment for SAD comes in the form of being exposed to bright light, otherwise known as light therapy (phototherapy). These are also available as full spectrum light bulbs that you can buy in any home fixtures and lighting section at drugstores, grocery outlets or department stores. The person with SAD usually sits in front of a light box, or a lamp that has a full spectrum light bulb, for a given time each day. Generally, light therapy takes about twenty minutes every day during the person's "season".

Feel free to drop by your counseling center and consult our counselors and we will be happy to provide you with more information.