Seasonal 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