The winter blues descend upon us all


Emily Yenter

Snowpiles, shoveling, scraping of windows, going to school in the dark, coming home in the dark, the bleakness of winter. By mid-Feb, and now finally March, many have grown  quite tired of it.

Most people dislike the winter weather, but it may affect some people more than others. If your mental health is being affected by the winter, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Even with spring right around the corner, many people struggle to keep their mood up because of this phenomenon. There are, however, many ways to manage it. 

SAD is a type of depression that’s related to the changes in seasons of the year. Many people tend to be affected by this type of depression during the late fall and winter seasons. According to, many of the symptoms of SAD will appear during the fall and winter months and disappear during the spring and summer. Symptoms of SAD include losing interest in activities, having low energy, overeating, difficulty concentrating, sleeping too much, and feelings of hopelessness or sadness every day. 

There are many reasons as to why this weather affects people. According to, one reason has to do with our circadian rhythm. This is our biological clock. During the winter, there is a decreased level of sunlight. This decrease of sunlight can cause a disruption in our biological clocks. Many people go through a whole winter day without seeing the sun. If that becomes a daily recurrence, it can eventually lead to SAD. This decrease of sunlight can also affect individual levels of serotonin. Serotonin is chemical in the brain that regulates mood. When the serotonin is at normal levels, an individual will feel more focused and happy. Low levels of serotonin may lead to depression. Finally, the seasonal weather can also affect your melatonin levels. Melatonin helps control your sleep patterns and mood. 

Going through SAD can become a day-to-day conflict, but there are many ways to help ease and cope with its ill effects. According to, mild cases of SAD can be helped while being at home. Exercising, taking vitamin D supplements, going outside, having a healthy diet, and making sure you’re prioritizing social activities are all effective ways to help cope with SAD. One teacher interviewed at Amherst High School said, “I spend most of my time in a box. There are times in the year where I do not see the sun. I try to find things I really like to do during the winter. I’m a downhill skier, I will play with my kids in the snow, things that embrace the season.” A student interviewed said, “When I feel sad during the winter, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, listening to music, and shopping. I like to do things that always make me happy.” More extreme cases of SAD may be helped with light therapy or medication. 

Given these realities, SAD affects the day-to-day lives of many individuals, but there are many ways to manage and overcome it at least until the sun finally returns–as it surely will. Talk with someone about how you’re feeling and prioritize yourself. Make sure to stay healthy and keep a schedule for each day. Finally, always remember that you are not alone.