When gloomy weather leads to SAD (seasonal affective disorder)


By Retzel Fabillar
Flapjack Chronicle

Jennifer Ventura, 22, liberal studies elementary education major, noticed how much the rainy weather affects her plans and feelings during the day.
“I definitely do get a seasonal change in mood,” Ventura said. “Especially here in Humboldt. I’m from Long Beach so it’s a really big change that I had to adjust to. The fog and the lack of sun contribute even more when I’m having a bad day.”
Here in Humboldt County, there are extensive periods in which the sun does not appear for over a month. The region is known for its foggy and rainy weather. As winter approaches, the rainy season begins and can continue until April or much later.
Does a grey-looking environment affect HSU students in an emotional way? It might. Such a condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that one experiences at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter. SAD is a real problem in HSU according to Shawn Silverstein, Ph.D, representative of the Counseling and Psychological Services at HSU.
Many HSU students acknowledge this type of condition and the fact that it dampers on their emotions, productivity and outdoor hobbies
Due to the weather, Ventura noted changes in her activities and advised others to focus on better things when the rain is affecting them emotionally.
“I’d do more outdoor activities, but instead, I stay home, study and watch T.V.,” Ventura said. “What always helps me during such gloomy days is to appreciate the brighter side of things. Focus on trees, the green and the brighter colors. Humboldt is still very beautiful.”
Nick Macintyre, 22, geology major, also admitted feelings of Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter.
“I feel restlessness when it’s dark and damp,” Macintyre said. “It agitates me a little bit because I do a lot of sports and outdoor activities. I probably drink more when it’s rainy. I watch T.V., play games and study.”
Although there are many that can relate to experiences of SAD, some admit that they have never felt any feelings of depression because of weather conditions at Humboldt State.
Sarah Fay Philips, 30, instructional services librarian and assessment coordinator, said that she recently moved from Central California to the North Coast and that the weather has not impacted her.
“I don’t mind it being a little darker because it means being cozier, wearing sweaters, more blankets and more hibernation,” Philips said. “I like it so far that it doesn’t rain throughout the entire day.”
Philips also discussed changes in her daily routine and that she finds ways to work around the challenging climate.
“I like to take my dog for a walk, but I have to time that better,” Philips said. “When it’s not sunny, I watch a lot of movies. I haven’t noticed any emotional changes in me so far.”
Ariel Fishkin, 21, anthropology major also said she doesn’t mind the cloudy, grey-looking days.
“I’m actually happier when it’s cold and rainy,” Fishkin said. “Most of my activities are indoors anyways. I like being inside. People who deal with that should definitely do things in groups. Get together with some friends.”
“SAD is a version of depression that is dependent on having a seasonal pattern,” Silverstein said. “It impacts people differently, especially if you moved from a warm, sunny environment to Humboldt State.”
Silverstein acknowledged the types of treatments and activities that students can do in order to overcome the depression.
“We encourage light therapy in which patients receive vitamin D, which stimulates the brain to enhance one’s mood,” Silverstein said. “Exercise also creates spring chemicals to regulate our balance. Other activities one can do are to have therapy and to increase social contact and engagement.”


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