Shining Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sealightsonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common form of depression among college students that is related to a change in the season. Light therapy is one of the treatments for SAD that has gained a lot of attention. Some colleges have worked to install “light stations” on campus to help students with the disorder.

Click the links below to learn more about SAD and light therapy on college campuses.

Keep reading for an interview with a student who has Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Q: When did you start to notice symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
A: My junior year of high school after Thanksgiving break I noticed that I felt tired all the time. I only wanted to sleep and couldn’t find it in me to do anything else.

Q: How did your family react to this?
A: At first my parents were really pissed. They thought I was just being lazy, especially since my grades were dropping. They were hard on me at first, but when spring came I improved so they calmed down. It was difficult because I didn’t know how to explain my feelings without them thinking that I was just lazy.

Q: How often did you notice your symptoms?
A: After I first noticed my symptoms junior year it seemed that every year after that my symptoms would come back in the fall and then improve once spring rolled around. They got worse once I started college.

Q: Other than wanting to sleep and lacking motivation, did you have any other symptoms at first?
A: Everyone said I was more moody, but hey nobody’s perfect. I gained weight during the winter which didn’t help my self-esteem or mood at all. I only wanted to eat certain things, like comfort foods. All the time. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and generally just felt like I couldn’t do anything right. My school work and social life suffered a lot. I couldn’t go to classes some days, and I’d turn down plans with my friends then feel ashamed about it and completely alone.

Q: When were you diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
A: It took a while for my parents to believe that something was actually going on with me other than slacking off. After they took me to the doctor I waited a while for a proper diagnosis considering a lot of the symptoms can mimic other things, but before my sophomore year in college I was diagnosed.

Q: Have you been able to manage your symptoms since then?
A: I have definitely improved over the past few years, but finding a treatment method that worked for me was extremely difficult and scary. I had trouble accepting that I needed to get help from another source because I wanted to fix myself. Therapy sessions in person helped me the most.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about SAD in general or from your experiences?
A: Any affective disorder comes with a lot of stigma, which most of the time is because people don’t understand them. I can only say disorders like SAD are very real and can take over your life. You don’t always know what a person is going through and they might not know how to explain it. What I think is most important is to try to learn more about things like SAD and not feel ashamed about it.

Written by Allie Fonseca, Peer Educator

Ten Things You Should Have in Your Car at All Times

Other than your car insurance and registration information, there are a few things you should always have in your car for safety purposes. You can buy packaged emergency safety kits through AAA, but making your own is more personalized and can save you some money! Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1. Jumper cables. Dead batteries always happen at the most inconvenient times; don’t sweat it and carry jumper cables! jumper

2. Ice scraper. This is a necessity during those cold, icy winter months. Driving with ice on your windshield can decrease visibility and can be very dangerous for other cars on the road. Don’t have an ice scraper? You can use an old gift card.

3. Blanket or extra warm clothes. If you need to wait for a tow truck or for help to arrive during the winter months, keep a spare coat, hat, scarf, or blankets in your car to stay warm.

4. Water bottles and granola bars. These basic necessities will come in handy if you want a snack on a long drive, or if you are in a situation where you do not have access to food.

5. Phone car charger. Cell phones are our life lines, so chargers are crucial.

6. Spare tire and first aidtire iron. It may help to know how to use these things too! Check out DMV’s how-to guide.

7. First aid kit. These kits are good to have in case of injury during a small accident or if you need a Band-Aid for your annoying paper cut!

8. Flashlight. Because who isn’t afraid of the dark? If you had to change a tire at night this item would be absolutely necessary.

9. Roadside flare or reflective triangle. These will come in handy if your car breaks down on the side of the road; they will keep you visible to passing cars. tri

10. Printed directions or map. Relying on your phone for direction isn’t always a good idea. Have these items for back up!


Written by Rachel Kile, Peer Educator

The Truth about Party Drugs

partyFrom UCLA to WCU, many associate college with partying. While partying can mean different things to different people, it has the potential to go hand-in-hand with exposure to drugs and other substances. According to a Columbia University study, almost 50% of full-time college students binge drink or abuse prescription/illegal drugs. Not familiar with what’s out there? Here’s the scoop on some of the most “popular” party drugs on college campuses.


• Recognize it!
o Typically in a white powder form to be snorted
o Could be smoked or injected

• What does it do?
o Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant
o Causes hyperactivity, euphoric feelings, and increased blood pressure and heart rate

• Dangers
o Paranoia
o Irreversible damage to the vital organs (heart, brain, etc.)
o Overdose can lead to death


• Recognize it!
o Small pressed pill to be taken orally or powder form to snort

• What does it do?mollie
o Produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth, and sensory delusions
o Called the “hug drug” because users feel more social and accepting

• Dangers
o Brain and hormone imbalances
o Negative effects on blood pressure and heart rate
o High doses interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which has been known to cause system failures and death


Recognize it!add
o Small, multicolored pills (peach, while, blue)
o Capsule pill
o Taken orally or snorted
o Prescription medication

What does it do?
o It is traditionally prescribed to people with ADHD and ADD to help them concentrate
o Some people use it to help study
o People mix Adderall and alcohol at parties for a more intense experience

o Adderall and alcohol is a dangerous combination. The stimulant competes with the depressant in the body
o Adderall dulls the “drunk” feeling, making it easier to over-consume and end up in the hospital

It’s important to be able to recognize these drugs and know their effects and consequences.
Party smart and party safe, Rams!

Written by Gracie McDermott, Volunteer

The Low-Down on Getting Down


               Having Trouble Getting THIS?                                                     Then Learn About THIS!

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We’ve all heard of erectile dysfunction and medications such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis through commercials on TV, but did you know that 1 in 3 women will be affected by a sex-related difficulty in their lifetime? Sexual dysfunction is an issue for men and women alike!

Dr.Nadine Thompson, a certified OBGYN and specialist in sexual health, defines sexual dysfunction as “anything that affects the individual or couple sexually”. It’s important to be aware of the less-known complications and treatments for women.

Common Complications

Do you often feel self-conscious about your smell “down there”? Are you experiencing an oddly colored discharge? Have you/do you have unprotected sex? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions then check out some more information on Bacterial Vaginosis.

Are you turned on, but not reaching the “Big O”? You may want to learn more about Female Orgasmic Disorder! Click here.

Is your body saying no to sex? Do you have trouble with pain during sex, pelvic exams, or inserting tampons? If so you may be experiencing Vaginismus, which can be defined as “pain during sex or the insertion of anything into the vagina because of the contraction of the vaginal muscles”. Learn a little more about female sexual dysfunction by clicking here.

Written by DeVonna Smith, Peer Educator

LGBTQ and You

LGBT conversation and representation is in the media more than ever! Want to be part of the conversation, but confused about terminology? We’ve got you covered!


Gender Identity is how you, in your head, think about yourself. It’s the chemistry that composes you (e.g., hormone levels) and how you interpret what that means.

Gender Expression is how you demonstrate your gender (based on traditional gender roles) through the ways you act, dress, behave, and interact.

Biological Sex refers to the objectively measurable organs, hormones and chromosomes. Female= vagina, ovaries, XX chromosomes; male= penis, testes, XY chromosomes; intersex= a combination of the two.

Sexual Orientation is who you are physically, spiritually, and emotionally attracted to, based on their sex/gender in relation to your own.

Now that you have a basic understanding of sex vs. gender identity vs. gender expression vs. orientation, consider learning more about the LGBTQ community on our campus and becoming an ally!! Head to for training dates and more information!

Written by Dave Parsons, Peer Educator

Go Pro!

Let’s talk about

What are they?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can be found in various foods and supplements, and they are great for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Probiotics help to balance the bacteria in your body by restoring the good bacteria while lowering the bad.

Where can you find them naturally?
o Yogurt
o Dairy products
o Fermented foods, such as miso soup, unpasteurized sauerkraut, soft cheeses (Gouda)

Where else can you find probiotics?
Probiotics can be found in supplements in capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid form. The supplements don’t provide the extra nutrients found in probiotic foods, but they are very convenient! You can find supplements at food stores, pharmacies such as Walgreens, GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe, or right in town at The Great Pumpkin.

Health benefits of using probiotics:
o Used to treat irritable bowel syndrome
o Help to relive diarrhea
o Used to treat skin conditions, such as eczema
o Promote positive urinary and vaginal health
o Promote positive oral health
o Help to prevent allergies and colds

Possible mild side effects:
It’s possible to develop some side effects when you start taking probiotics, but these should subside in a few days.
o Upset stomach
o Diarrhea
o Gas/bloating

In order to see if probiotics are for you, be sure to do some further research! Then, talk with your doctor in order to discover which type will be best for you. Be sure to check the label, call the manufacturer if you have any questions, and practice proper storage.

Written by Christina Gantt, Peer Educator

Your Guide to a Successful Snow Day

It’s beginning to look a lot like spring 2014! With winter storms plaguing WCU, we are bound to have many snow days. Enjoy your day off by trying some of these activities to jump start your snow day!snoww

Go sledding. Try reliving a favorite winter pastime and find a hill on campus.

Feast with friends. Order takeout and have it delivered. You and your friends can enjoy dinner and never have to leave your nice, warm room.

Study. Catching up on school work is always a good way to spend an extra day off. Do some homework or catch up on reading for class.

Exercise indoors. Yoga is a perfect indoor activity that will keep you fit and relaxed on your snow day.

Get creative. Play games with friends like Monopoly, Headbands, or Apples to Apples! Don’t have board games? Use your phone to download some apps, such as “Heads Up”, or “Trivia Crack”.

Be a film critic. Grab some popcorn and a few friends and make a day of movie watching. Try watching some old classics, or new movies you have never seen.

Throw snow. Have a snow ball fight with your friends in the residential or academic quad.elf

Written by Matt Keller, Peer Educator

Book Buying 101

Procrastinating on buying books this semester? Well if it turns out that your “required” textbooks are actually required then you may want to check out these cheaper book buying and renting options! texts

E-Textbooks are a great option if you have a laptop or tablet and don’t feel like lugging those huge books to class. Another plus- they usually sell for about half the full retail price! CourseSmart is the number one site for E-Textbooks and digital course materials, and it even allows you to highlight and take notes online.

Renting is another option for those who don’t care about keeping a textbook once the semester is over. Renting is also a great deal cheaper than purchasing. Some of the many online companies that rent books include Chegg, BookRenter, CampusBookRentals, and Ecampus. Renting is also an option on-campus at both Sykes and Dynamic bookstores.

Buying online is a smart way to find the cheapest prices for textbooks. Campusbooks and Bigwords are two sites that search for the lowest prices available. You can also find used textbooks for sale on eBay and Amazon!

Sharing a textbook with a classmate or friend can cut your spending in half! If you plan on sharing a textbook, make sure you and your classmate can create a schedule for use, or find dates and times to work together. You can also make copies and take photos of pages with your cellphone.

Written by Samantha Tatulli, Graduate Assistant

Make the Most of Your Winter Break

snowIt’s that time of the year again- time to return home for a long 5-week break. Winter break can be a time to relax and recharge, but with all that free time on your hands it is easy to get bored. By January 20th you may be more than ready to get back to WCU! Look to these tips to make your break a fun, yet productive one.

Spend Time with Family- It’s been a long semester! Take some time to reconnect with your family and fill them in on what you have been up to at WCU. clothes

Donate Clothes- The winter season is a perfect time to donate any clothes you no longer wear. Free up your closet space for some new holiday gifts and help the less fortunate to stay warm during winter. Salvation Army and Goodwill are both great places to consider donating to.

Plan Your Future- Use your extra free time to make future plans. If you are a freshman or sophomore, look into internships to take part in next semester or over the summer. As for juniors and seniors, start studying for the GRE’s, applying to grad schools, or networking with people in your field. You may also consider volunteering for an organization related to your field! Check out the Career Development Center website to get started.

Think about Summer- The frigid temperatures may make it difficult to believe that summer will be here before you know it! Start planning a trip, searching for a cool summer job, or making other plans that will get you excited for the warmer season.

Practice Healthy Eating- Eat healthy foods at school isn’t always easy. Use your time over break to experiment with new recipes and foods. When cooking, use less salt, try baking or broiling over frying your foods, and incorporate more fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water, and take a break from all of that beer and pizza!


Have Fun! While having a productive break is a great goal to set, you should also enjnetflix-appletv1oy yourself and relax. Make sure to recharge after a long semester. Do something that you haven’t been able to do since the summer, or consider picking up a new hobby. Winter break can be the perfect time to read for pleasure, binge watch Netflix, get to the gym more often, or hang out friends!

Written by Dave Parsons, Peer Educator

Surviving Finals Week

Finals week can be a very stressful time. All you can think about is winter break, upcoming holidays, and going home to see friends and family, but you still have to focus on papers, projects, and exams. Before you are ready to throw in the towel, here are some tips that just might help you make it this rough time.

Get Some Sleep
Although you might think pulling an all-nighter to cram for a test would be a good idea, research done by Harvard Medical School says that “sleep plays an important role in memory, both before and after learning a new task”. Not only will you be tired when it’s time to take the test, but you won’t remember as much as you would had you gotten a good 7-9 hours of sleep the night before.

sleepyMake a Schedule
It can be difficult to study for multiple exams at a time. One way to help with this would be to make a very organized schedule. Make a list of all the classes you need to study for, and then prioritize them so you know which subjects you need to spend more time on. Schedule study times throughout your day, but don’t forget to take study breaks and schedule time for eating, hanging out, or doing something you enjoy.

Avoid Distractions
Distractions only lead to procrastination. Here are so tips on how to beat them:
• Have your books and notes organized before you even being studying to eliminate wasted time trying to find the information you need.
• Study in a clean environment. If you try to study in a messy room, you’ll be tempted to clean it, or find something that will keep you from doing you work.
• Don’t study on an empty stomach. If you are planning to study for a long period of time, have a snack with you so you don’t get distracted by being hungry and thinking abocellut what you want to eat instead of your study topic.
• Turn your cell phone on silent and put it away. Cell phones and social media are one of the biggest distractions. If you’re really addicted, have your friends, roommates, or significant other change your password until after finals.


Written by Morgan Margherita, Volunteer