Worrisome Winters


Collin Caple

Winter is Coming, and so is Seasonal Depression.

For many, winter is the most emotionally intense season, not because of the joy the happy holidays bring, but because of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a reoccurring form of depression that affects 5% of adults during the beginning of fall to late winter, and the less severe form, “winter blues,” affects 10% to 20% of people. These syndromes often onset during high school.

Symptoms of SAD can be devastating for students, especially those who already suffer from other forms of depression or mental illness. The stress of good school performance can be too much during this period and lead to a loss of motivation, production, and happiness. This can create a cyclic nature where the depression is fed by the added stress of poor performance.

There’s a myriad of reasons for SAD, from societal to biological. Many students stay home with dysfunctional families during the breaks, and the anxiety can bleed into their social life. Other students may have lost someone close to them, and the holidays can remind them of their absence. However, sometimes, it can be as simple as receiving less Vitamin D due to the shorter days or as having it run in the family.

Grissom High School, and other places in Huntsville, have resources available for these struggling students. Grissom currently has a temporary Nova assistant, Ms. Dykstra, and will soon have a permanent assistant. Nova is a program sponsored by Wellstone, a major non-profit healthcare provider in Huntsville. Ms. Dykstra is in the counselor’s office on Mondays and Tuesdays.

There is also the Crisis Serivices of North Alabama (256-716-1000 is their 24/7 helpline), who takes in teenagers struggling with their depression and anxiety. In emergencies, call 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, for help.
For the milder form, doctors suggest walking more outside during the sunny hours, or even taking in Vitamin D supplements when sunshine is too unavailable. Talk with your friends about your emotions, and if you ever feel like they’re becoming too severe, don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor or a doctor.