Why Winter is Bad for your Mental Health

Autumn Chase

If you are someone like me who is hopping on a plane to somewhere warm to start a new life the second after graduation, you can relate to what I am going to be bringing up today. Illinois consists of nine months of cold weather and three months of average to way to hot weather. With cold comes cold fronts which bring clouds and clouds make the world around us a darker place. This is a very serious topic, and I am going to shed some light upon it, no pun intended.

Seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD) is a very common type of depression. 5% of adults in the U.S. have it and it lasts for about 40% of the year. This type of depression is hard to cure because you can’t fix it with a pill because the weather around you has to change. There are a few reasons behind why people are being diagnosed with this type of depression. For starters, the biggest cause is because of the lack of daylight hours and the lack of sun. Sunlight shining on us releases endorphins which allows the body to create what we all know as happiness. Without being in the sun, everyone’s mood changes, but for some people it changes to the extreme. The only way that people have seen a change in themselves during a time like this is in light therapy, where you literally go in a room with bright lights in order for these endorphins to be released. Another problem with winter is that we cut back on exercise. This can stem from snowy weather and not wanting to be outside or the fact that we just feel lazier without the sun. Exercising also releases endorphins and yet we are cutting it out of our schedule.

If you were wondering how to determine if you have SAD, some common symptoms are anxiety, loneliness, excess/lack of sleep, social isolation, depression, and weight gain. These are just a few, but if you feel that you may have it, talk to a doctor or take an online quiz to see if you fall under the category. Just make sure you talk to someone and get treatment soon. This is a very serious condition. Overall, try to keep to your same schedule during the winter. If you need to, do a road trip or weekend trip to somewhere bright and sunny. This seems drastic, but it may be necessary. You have to keep your mental health something you constantly check up on. This is very important. If you ever need to talk to someone anonymously, call the number 1-800-662-HELP (4357).