Column: More attention should be brought to seasonal depression

Seasonal depression needs to be brought into the light at this time of year, especially when students are particularly vulnerable.

Madi Baughman is a sophomore journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

It’s getting colder out, which means shorter days, bulky sweaters and hot drinks — and, for some people, suffering quietly from increased seasonal depression.

While regular depression still isn’t talked about enough, seasonal depression (officially known as seasonal affective disorder) is another subtype of mental illness that is discussed even less.

The cold weather, lack of sunlight and incoming holidays can often make people fall into a depression, even if they’re not typically depressed for most of the year.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the symptoms of seasonal depression are very similar those of clinical depression: low energy, problems sleeping, losing interest in activities one once enjoyed and many more.

It’s also important to note that seasonal depression is most likely to occur in young adults. Also, according to studies done by Dr. Darren Cotterell about management of seasonal depression, four out of five people who report having seasonal depression are women.

However, seasonal depression is often dismissed because people tend to brush it off as the “winter blues.”

For students, specifically, it can be ignored by those who have seasonal depression because it tends to set in during the part of the year when schoolwork picks up. It is often dismissed as stress, or assumed that students don’t have the time or energy to deal with it, along with everything else they have going on as well. Out-of-state students can have a particularly hard time as well, as they don’t have as many connections or resources in-state to help them cope.

Without treatment or even acknowledgement, this can leave a lot of people in the dark about what they’re experiencing. This is why more attention should be brought to the condition in a public light.

From statistics collected from Cotterell’s study mentioned before, in any given year, approximately 5 percent of the U.S. population reports having seasonal depression — that’s around 16 million people. Some people experience it strongly enough to impact their overall quality of life, and about 6 percent of sufferers require hospitalization because of it.

This is why action must be taken to make people aware that what they’re experience might be more than just the “winter blues,” and they should get help sooner rather than later.

In addition to bringing more attention to seasonal affective disorder to the general public, schools should also start providing more resources to help their students at a time when they’re most vulnerable.

MU does a pretty good job of providing open resources to students year-round, but more events or workshops tailored to pushing through and getting help for seasonal depression would be a great step toward helping a lot of students on campus.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from seasonal depression, on-campus resources are available for help. The Student Health Center offers Behavioral Health services such as counseling and stress management resources, and the Counseling Center offers a variety of options as well.

MU Student Health Center (Behavioral Health): 573-882-1483

MU Counseling Center: 573-882-6601

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