The stretch from January to March is what I imagine hell to be like. The cold weather chills you to the bone. Sick sniffles echo throughout the hallowed halls of Palmer Hall. I can’t even enjoy my iced coffees. The eight-minute walk to class nearly kills me every morning. Waking up is impossible.
I’ve moved so little that I watched all seven seasons of “Game of Thrones” in a single block. Yet, I still have another whole block to get through but this time without the eye-candy of Jon Snow. Spring break is only three weeks away, but somehow I think I will age at least 10 years in that time span. For those of us outside the ski community, this time of year offers little reprieve or enjoyment.
Yes, it is dreary, but something much larger and out of our control is at play. This seasonal slump is oftentimes written off as the winter blues. In actuality, seasonal affective disorder is something that can genuinely affect the lifestyle and overall well-being of an individual.
Around 10-20 percent of the population suffers from seasonal affective disorder, SAD, each year, with four out of five of them being women. Some of the symptoms include depression, anxiety, mood changes, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, social problems, and reduced libido. So basically you are sad, sleep more, eat more, and don’t want to get laid. By no means is it the worst-case scenario, but it it still something that can be crippling to those already battling with their mental health.
So, what causes it? The reduced levels of sunlight (thanks, daylight saving time) can affect the body’s natural circadian rhythm, affecting sleep, as well as melatonin and serotonin production. Many can remedy some of the symptoms with sun lamps and weighted blankets, but if it becomes severe or prolonged, a doctor’s intervention is needed.
Another associated issue with SAD is the risk of increased substance abuse that often follows it. Marijuana might technically be legal and medicinal in Colorado, but for some, it can dramatically worsen the effects of depression, anxiety, lethargy, and sleeping problems. If you are feeling down and looking for a reason to have a “T-Break”, this is it.
My recommendation? Get a sun lamp, make a sad playlist, go for a run, have a good cry, hug some buddies, and just know deep down in your heart that spring is coming. Soon the grass will be green; the trees and flowers will bloom; the campus squirrels will be back out in all their glory; and it won’t be painful to go outside. A few gray hairs may have appeared by the end of it all, but have no fear — Darty Szn is near.