These next few months before 2016 comes to a close will bring about familiar changes. Leaves will turn to a bright orange before wilting into a crackly brown. People will begin to strut the streets with furry boots and thick parkas. Hundreds of turkeys will be sold and stuffed left and right to have the perfect Thanksgiving. Then, it will all finally come to a festive end with bright lights and tightly wrapped presents. This season will undoubtedly bring about endless amounts of happiness.
However, there is often one thing that people tend to not talk about during this time – seasonal depression. It’s seasonal so people will assume it will quickly pass like the flu or food poisoning. Unfortunately, seasonal depression is far from something as mundane as a light chill in the bones. It’s a real issue that can have terrifying effects if not addressed rapidly.
As college students, seasonal depression can be a huge setback. The next few weeks will be decorated with midterms, quizzes and surprise assignments, and with depression right around the corner these important tasks will either be done poorly or not at all.
Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is similar to regular depression, except it occurs at the same time of the year. Normally, it affects the population around this time when the skies get darker and colder. The symptoms can be varied, but most people will find themselves stricken with fatigue, social anxiety or withdrawal and hopelessness.
As someone that struggles with yearlong depression, I can confidently say that whether it is seasonal or not, depression needs to be addressed properly and with the right help. Unlike the common cold, depression often has symptoms that initially will go unnoticed. The perpetual tiredness might first seem like the result of all-nighters at the library. The short fuse might be blamed on the lack of sleep. The lack of appetite will then be blamed on the previous two symptoms and so on. These small symptoms will soon pile up and can actually make someone feel incapable of even getting out of bed. At this point, it is crucial for the person to seek help.
There are numerous times that I’ve found myself at this late stage. I’ve missed weeks of classes and was unfazed by the fact that I failed exams. At that point of my depression, all I could think about was when the day would end. Life would quickly pass by and I had no control over anything. I felt helpless.
Therefore, if seasonal depression can have the same effect on a person, why is it put off so quickly? Whether one is in school or not, it cannot be ignored so easily. As college students, the symptoms are often forgotten because there seems to be a real cause behind it. Most students will blame their hard classes or their procrastination.
Sometimes, the real reason behind it isn’t as obvious. If that is so, then it is important to talk about it with close friends or family. Voicing those issues with a trusted person is already a form of treatment. By acknowledging that it’s a real issue, an individual gains accountability over their depression and can find further help for it.
So, though it will be a festive season with fat turkeys and bearded men with red suits, it is also a season that can be accompanied with helplessness and depression. Anyone can be affected and everyone needs to be aware of the symptoms, whether it is a personal issue or inflicted on a friend or family member. If one is in such a situation, then the best thing to do is address it immediately.
Depression is not like the common cold, but if the correct steps are taken, it can be treated as easily.