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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Students Share Experiences with Seasonal Depression and Offer Action Steps

Students Share Experiences with Seasonal Depression and Offer Action Steps

Have you noticed a lack of energy as the days get darker? Has your motivation for simple tasks diminished or vanished entirely? These could be effects of seasonal affective disorder, which is more commonly known as seasonal depression.  

Dulce Diaz-Alvarenga ‘23 says she feels the effects of seasonal depression every year as the days grow darker. The lack of sunlight impacts a lot about her mental health, including her motivation to do things.  

 “I feel like right now I’m fully charged because of the summer and being outside a lot, but it’s like my battery slowly depletes as the winter goes on and winter comes to an end. It’s like I’m on one percent. It’s depression on steroids,” Diaz-Alvarenga said. 

It is very common for students to suffer the effects of seasonal depression right now. Jason Parcover, Assistant Vice President of Student Well-Being and Director of the Counseling Center, spoke on this.

“Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons and specifically to the changing amount of sunlight that we are exposed to. The shorter days, and in some areas greater amounts of cloud cover, during winter months are the main causes.” Parcover said just 30 minutes of sunlight a day can make a big difference as exposure to sunlight is known to lift moods. 

“Clinical treatment for SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, provided by medical professionals may include light therapy, therapy, and medications.” Alondra Vargas ‘23 is using light therapy in an attempt to combat seasonal depression.  

“I have a sun lamp that mimics the light of the sun on a regular cycle. So when the sun sets, it’s still light in my room, which helps me focus and feel more productive,” Vargas said. 

Seasonal depression is real and its impacts can be long lasting. Diaz-Alvarenga is still working to get over the effects of last year’s seasonal depression, as the temperatures drop and it’s getting darker earlier. One of the effects she has been most impacted by is the lack of motivation to interact with others.  

“Socially, I was very withdrawn, which really sucked, especially now. Since I’m a senior, I feel like I have to do some catching up,” Diaz-Alvarenga said. “Now, especially with midterms and stuff, it’s been hard to be social. I try to force myself to be more social, but it’s definitely more of an effort these days.”  

Getting involved with clubs on campus are a big part of the social and academic lives of students at Loyola. However, those affected by seasonal depression are often unmotivated to get involved with anything after they are done with classes for the day.  

“Academically, it’s hard since all I want to do is sleep all day because the sun sets earlier. Overall, I just feel exhausted coming home after my classes, even though I used to have the energy to do homework and/or my extracurriculars,” Vargas said. 

Seasonal depression can also impact a student’s performance in the classroom. Diaz-Alvarenga recognizes that seasonal depression affects her academic life too, which has pushed her to open up to her professors about this.  

“It was really hard for me academically to do a lot of the work. The biggest thing for me is talking to my professors about it, which is really hard for me to do. But not talking to them about it has really hit me in the ass,” she said.

Conversations on mental health, especially concerning depression, are not always easy but it may be helpful to open up to others regarding your state of mental health.  

For Diaz-Alvarenga, self-care is an important aspect of dealing with the effects of seasonal depression. For her, it is important to be aware of what you are going through and to acknowledge that your feelings are valid.  

“I think my biggest self care tip that I’ve been using is being nice to myself when I’m depressed. I’m already so unmotivated, but beating myself up about it like saying ‘You’re so lazy’ or ‘You’re so worthless’ never helped me to get better. So, I’m helping myself get better by being nice to myself.” 

Diaz-Alvarenga assures other students that experiencing seasonal depression is normal and encourages others to take breaks when needed. 

 “Don’t force yourself to keep going, just take a second and take a break. It’s okay, you’re not gonna fail if you take a day off. I know, for myself, it’s a very embarrassing thing to not do anything for a long period of time and to be so exhausted. But, it’s not something to be embarrassed about.” 

Featured Image courtesy of Lupe Labra Valencia.

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Students Share Experiences with Seasonal Depression and Offer Action Steps