Dealing with seasonal affective disorder 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect 0.5% to 3% of the population. In this article, Bonilla explains how to cope with SAD and the mental health resources offered at UConn. Photo courtesy of:

As the clocks turn back and the weather gets colder, depression and other mental health issues can begin to creep in.  

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect 0.5% to 3% of the population. As its name suggests, this is a type of depression  most often associated with the seasons changing. SAD can happen in the summer months, but most people tend to experience this disorder in the colder months of fall and winter. People who have SAD may also experience mental health issues throughout the year, but usually their mental health problems are enhanced by the cold weather.  

There are also many symptoms associated with SAD that one may experience. Most of the symptoms are commonly associated with generalized depression. They include feelings such as loneliness, sadness, anxiety and mood swings, among others. Someone experiencing SAD can also have physical symptoms, such as weight loss or a change in appetite.  

So how can you help yourself if you’re struggling with SAD? At times, the struggle of mental health issues can feel hopeless. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you are struggling, you can reach out to Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) for a multitude of resources and trained professionals. Making sure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep a night can help with feelings of tiredness or depression.  

Vitamin D can also help immensely with many mental health issues. Spending at least half an hour outside each day (yes, even if it’s cold) can help provide some extra serotonin. Try going on a walk each day, even if it isn’t for a long amount of time. Enjoy the sunshine while you can! 

It is also important to have a well-rounded diet and adequate exercise. UConn Dining has multiple dining halls all over campus with many food options.  The Recreation Center is also open most days of the week, and has four floors of activities and exercise machines to choose from.  

And make sure to find time for social activities! UConn has over 700 clubs and organizations to get involved with, meaning there is truly something for everyone to do on campus. Try doing at least one social activity every few days. Socializing with friends can be a great way to get through mental health struggles. If you need to make friends, UConn hosts numerous events throughout the week — such as Late Night — where you can meet other students.  

If you struggle with SAD or any other mental health disorder, there is hope. By making sure you are getting enough rest as well as time in the sun, you can help yourself. By eating well and getting enough exercise, you can greatly improve your mood. Finally, make sure to carve out time in your busy schedule for fun and friendship. Try reaching out to SHaW by visiting its website, or by calling the Mental Health Office at (860) 486-4705. 

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