Enroll

Seasonal Affect Disorder: A Real Problem to Be Aware of for Educators

I for one dislike winter, but some people experience more than displeasure during winter. These people have symptoms of depression, such as social withdrawal and lack of interest in hobbies. It’s important not to dismiss these symptoms as trivial “winter blues” because this kind of depression is a genuine medical condition called seasonal affect disorder (also called SAD). Educators should be aware of this condition so that they can seek help if needed, whether for themselves or for students who seem to be struggling with it.

Symptoms of SAD

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, the symptoms of seasonal affect disorder are much like those for depression. For most people with seasonal affect disorder, symptoms begin in fall, worsen as winter progresses, and disappear in spring and summer. Symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • hopelessness
  • appetite changes, such as craving carbohydrates
  • weight gain
  • energy loss
  • social withdrawal
  • lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • oversleeping
  • heavy feeling in arms or legs

Causes of SAD

Seasonal affect disorder’s precise cause is unknown but appears to be a mix of reduced sunlight and biology. The Mayo Clinic states that individual biochemistry may be one cause. Another may be disruption of the body’s internal clock resulting from decreased sunlight during this season. Decreased sunlight may also reduce the body’s levels of melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that affects sleep and mood, and serotonin is a brain chemical that affects mood.

People Likely to Have SAD

According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affect disorder is more commonly diagnosed in women than in men. This condition is also common in people with other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder. People who live far from the equator are more likely to receive a diagnosis of seasonal affect disorder because of the contrasting amounts of sunshine they receive during summer and winter.

 

If you feel some of the symptoms listed above for more than a week, the Mayo Clinic advises talking to your doctor, especially if they interfere with your ability to work, sleep, and gain pleasure from activities you normally like. If you notice changes in students’ homework quality or social interactions during winter, intervention may be necessary because they may be experiencing seasonal affect disorder. Treatment is available for SAD, so don’t resign yourself to depression every winter.

Work Cited: Mayo Clinic Staff. “Seasonal affect disorder (SAD).” 22 September 2011. Web. 2 January 2014.

*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

 

Darla Word

About Darla Word

I'm a writing tutor and editor from Michigan. My favorite subject to write about is writing because making better writers is my calling. I also enjoy reading, singing, swimming, and cardmaking.

Darla Word

Top Posts | Health & Well-being

Basics and Benefits of Acupuncture

As a method to alleviate some of the symptoms of my chronic illness, I’ve turned to traditional Chinese medicine. Last year, acupuncture wasn’t something I was open to trying because I believed it only relieved pain. Fortunately, it’s relieved my difficulty sleeping and cured my d ... ...

3 Benefits of Meditation

Are you stressed out? Are you struggling to center yourself? Have you ever thought of meditating? Meditation is a very broad term. You do not have to lay down on a mat with your eyes closed to experience the benefits of meditation. Meditation can simply be defined as letting go of your thought ... ...

5 Creative Ways to Enjoy the Wilderness

Families who live in or near wilderness areas already know the power these places have on health and creativity. Hiking in a seemingly endless forest is one of the great joys of living near a wilderness area. However, these hikes can start to lose their luster, especially for teens raised in the vi ...

The Health Benefits of Expressive Writing

As I write this, I might be improving my health. I know that expressive writing—creative writing and writing in my journal before bedtime—is good for my mental health, but I wondered if others benefit mentally or even physically from writing. I investigated this and learned people have ... ...

Kick Starting Love for Nature

One thing you must have noticed already (often with annoyance) that your child has a lot of curiosity about almost everything around. There is no end to questions like: “Why is Mr. Smith across the street always sick?’, “What happens to the cat that doesn’t catch a mouse?&rd ... ...

Recess Returns!

For thirty years, school children in Chicago have never experienced recess. Awful, isn’t it? Recess was taken out because it was considered as a waste of time. But don’t be too gloomy there, there is good news – recess is back.Recess is referred to as a break period or a break fro ... ...

A Move for a Healthy School

When it comes to primary school children, their safety and health is always a major concern for parents. Schools take extra care in making sure that the environment in which children grow is a healthy and secure one. Everything from the colors affecting the children's mental processes to the ch ... ...