The Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter months leaving students feeling sad and tired


Bella Wendling, Contributor

If you seem to be in a slump or a negative mood when the days get shorter or the weather gets colder, you may have something called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, happens around the same time every year, usually beginning in the fall, going through the winter months, and ending in early spring. As the days get shorter, there is less daylight time. In winter there is also less sunlight, with the sun not being as bright. The sunlight triggers our brains to produce a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps us stay happy and excited. So when there is a decrease in sunlight, there is also a decrease in the amount of serotonin being produced in some people’s brains. As well as this, our brains also produce another chemical, melatonin, when there is less light. Melatonin helps us remain calm and often causes us to be tired. The increase of melatonin during the fall and winter months leads some people to be more exhausted and tired. Being tired can also contribute to worse moods.

The effects of SAD can be stronger if you have other mental health conditions. For instance, people with major depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to be affected by SAD.
SAD, though seemingly harmless, can actually cause many complications. When students are more tired in class, they are more likely to fall behind on work, or the work that they do produce is of lower quality. Decreases in serotonin can lead people to have mood swings where they can change emotions fast or sometimes even snap at people. This can lead to disruptions or complications in the classroom.

SAD is a serious diagnosis. It can interfere with student or work life. It is not simply feeling a little down in the winter; it can actually leave students feeling helpless and drained.

If you are having symptoms of SAD, please do not be afraid to reach out. Speak to a friend, or trusted adult. There will always be someone to listen. Remember that these feelings will pass and that this is only temporary. Please reach out and share your feelings. Even tho the winter months get stressful with end-of-year tests and exams, and for teachers grading several assignments, the stress is only temporary. Remember to keep your head up and stay hopeful of the spring season that is to come.