Seasonal Depression and the College Student

Dear DiaryAs the cool fall breeze turns into bitter chilliness, many people hibernate for the winter. This hibernation can cause serious emotional pain and depression.

For many college students, it is easy to turn your little dorm room into a cave and never leave. Particularly during the winter months, a dorm room style cave is an ideal place to sleep for weeks on end and crave carbohydrates.

Seasonal depression typically occurs during the winter months. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, individuals experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. Symptoms can become extremely severe until they are controlled or treated.

Common symptoms of seasonal depression include: prolonged feelings of sadness, loss of interest in favorite activities, change in weight or appetite, irritability, moodiness, and withdrawal from social relationships. Other symptoms that may affect your studies include: loss of motivation, hopelessness, diminished ability to concentrate, and pessimistic expectations of the future.

There are many options for treatment from seasonal depression. Light therapy can be used by providing extra sunlight or bright lights to a darkened room. A doctor or psychologist can prescribe antidepressant medication, cognitive- behavioral therapy, or ionized- air administration.

As a college student, it is important not to fall behind on your studies as the fall semester ends or as the spring semester begins. Your college experience and studies will damage if you are not up to par. Even in the cold, wintery months, it is important to continue your studies and social life. Remember to still participate in social events and to stay on- top of your school work.

Before the winter months begin, eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Common stressors for many college students include: homesickness, academic difficulties, relationships with friends or loved-ones, financial problems, conflicts with parents, or uncertainty about the future.

It is important to prevent seasonal depression before it begins. Healthy lifestyle habits are the best way to prevent seasonal depression. Suggestions for preventing depression include: eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, breathe fresh air, maintain several hobbies, stay connected with friends, volunteer, and avoid drugs or alcohol.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of seasonal depression, talk to someone you trust. Let them know that something is bothering you and, together, work through your problem. If you are feeling overwhelmed, focus on a plan. Develop a plan to help you get through the hardship. Take an active stance on dealing with your issues. Monitor your thought patterns as you are alert for a change in your behavior. Watch for distorted thinking in order to prevent early- onset depression.

Above all, seek help. If you experience any symptom of seasonal depression, seek professional help. A school counselor or academic advisor can give you guidance and advice to help keep away the winter blues.

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