Seasonal Affective Disorder is very common during the winter. The lack of sun may cause people to isolate themselves from their friends and activities they enjoy doing.
SAD is often accompanied by depression, anxiety and even bipolar disorder.
Many people suffer from SAD. Spanish and ESL teacher, Laura Chambers admits that she has less energy during the winter months.
“I have noticed that some students become more depressed in the winter. I know the patterns in my body, and I can observe those same patterns in students at school,” Chambers said.
But it’s not only students who deal with SAD, staff members also suffer from this disorder.
“Now that I look back at the pattern of SAD in my life, I see that it really started when I was 16. There was a pattern of me getting really tired starting in October-November and then bottoming out in March,” Chambers said.
While Chambers can pinpoint that these feelings began around the time she was 16, she didn’t recognize that it was a pattern until approximately six years ago.
“It was at that point that I asked for help. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming knowing that my body will go through this cycle every year, but the better that I am at self-care, the better I weather the SAD storm.”
There are many symptoms to SAD. They include feeling depressed most days or maybe even every day, low energy, trouble sleeping, change in appetite among other symptoms.
Honors U.S. History and AP World History teacher, Jennifer Sudduth deals with anxiety and depression.
“I realized it several years ago. I had noticed that my “normal” level of depression was getting worse in the fall months,” Sudduth said.
Many people who have SAD use a light box before they head out to work or school to help with the symptoms.
“I use a light box starting in October. I use it in the morning, and it replicates the sun light,” Sudduth said.
There are many other ways to help reduce SAD symptoms, like taking vitamin D and K supplements, keeping a balanced diet, and exercising.
“It can be really hard to do the last two, especially when I am really struggling with exhaustion, but if I just press through and make it happen, I feel better,” Chambers said.
It also helps having a support system whether that is made of friends, family or a combination of both.
“I am honest with my family and friends about what is going on. I have a friend at school who also struggles with this and we try to encourage each other through the darkest part of the year. This year we decided to send each other a funny or sarcastic GIPHY every day,” Chambers said.
Chambers and Sudduth part of each other’s support system including Ellen Augustine.
“Find a support system. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay active, drink water, and eat healthy. You have to make sure to take care of yourself physically and mentally,” Sudduth said.