Stubborn Seasonal Depression


Kate Hovanec, Writer

As sunlight becomes scarce and days become colder, we can prepare to welcome our old friend–seasonal depression. Seasonal depression occurs around the same time each year, and as we make our way through November, people may start to feel its effects. 

We can thank decreased serotonin and melatonin levels, as well as a disrupted biological clock for this gift of seasonal depression. Serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, and melatonin is a hormone that causes your body to respond to darkness. Both of these levels have the possibility of dipping in colder months due to the darkness we experience early in the day, and simply the way we feel about winter. Our biological clock, or circadian rhythm, is the 24-hour cycle that regulates the timing of everyday processes like eating, sleeping and temperature. The change from summer to fall, and fall to winter can very easily disrupt our biological clock, also leading to seasonal depression. 

Some symptoms of seasonal depression may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Feeling hopeless or unworthy 
  • Frequent suicidal / death thoughts

If these symptoms continue to worsen, medical help is available. Light therapy (phototherapy) may be used, along with medications and psychotherapy to fight off seasonal depression. 

Some people may not need as far as medical help, but if you are struggling with seasonal depression, some activities and ideas to fight its dreadful feeling may include:

  • Prioritizing social activities
  • Exploring indoor activities (such as visiting arcades, bowling, mini golf, concerts, going to sport games)
  • Exercising 
  • Sticking to a schedule, plan out your day and activities in advance
  • Getting sunshine
  • Exploring fall / winter outdoor activities (skiing / snowboarding, ice skating, hiking, walking)

Seasonal depression is something everybody can experience at least once in their life. It makes us feel our worst and lasts for various amounts of time. Medical help is always available, as well as self-care activities to make the cold months more bearable. Remember, the cold months do not last forever!