Blue Skies No Longer Smiling at You?

Molly Bond

That’s it, people. The holidays are officially over, and all we have stretching ahead of us is the freezing, dreary, bitter winter months. All the happiness and cheer of the holiday season has vanished, and all that’s left is the failed new years resolutions of January, the nasty, dirty snow of February, and the vacation-free month of March.

In accordance with the depressing, perpetual gray overcast of the next few months, the attitude of the students has a tendency to significantly deplete. The lack of sun, the brown snow, and the cold that bites your skin and keeps you from wearing your favorite skirt all contribute to the seemingly never-ending snippy attitude of most people at this time of year.

Along with the change in mood, the winter months seem to have the power to rid each student, especially the girls, of their individuality when it comes to clothing. Uggs, yoga pants, and NorthFace fleeces seem to be displayed on each girl at some point in the winter.

But why is this so? Why does the change in season have such a great affect upon people?

When it comes to general depression during the winter, there is an actual clinical explanation for this, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is an affliction where people with normal mental health throughout most of the year experience serious depressive symptoms in the winter.

This would account for the “winter blues” that is quickly approaching the people of Franklin High. You can tell by the bags under people’s eyes, the I-got-two-hours-of-sleep-last-night attitude, and the lack of motivation to dress nice (i.e. sweatpants every day). This would account for the lack of individuality in clothing seen in most students at this time of year.

Along with the poor weather, midterms are coming up, and teachers are piling on the work, causing for fewer and fewer hours of sleep for students.

It’s all connected: the time of year brings depressing weather along with midterms, which guarentees lack of sleep, taking away the motivation to actually get up in the morning and put on anything but sweats.

While this does lead to general bad moods, it does not explain actual clinical depression.  What is the clinical cause of SAD?

According to Amal Chakraburtty, MD, of WebMD, because of the lack of sunlight in the late fall into winter, serotonin, a neurotransmitter which creates a calming  effect, is produced in short supply, leading to a short temper as well as loss of interest, fatigue, cravings for complex carbohydrates, weight gain, and irritability.

Does any of this sound familiar? According to Chakraburtty, SAD is most common in a) people living in an area where the winter days are short and b) people from age 15-55. We as high school students living in New England are prime candidates for this affliction.

How do you know if you have SAD?

The most telling symptom is if you become more depressed during the same season year after year, but become happier with the change of the season. Also, the symptoms listed above are very telling as well.

How can it be treated?

While there is no cure for SAD, most doctors recommend light therapy.

One type of light therapy is the bright light therapy, where one, usually in the morning, sits in front of a light box for 30 minutes.

The second type of light therapy is called dawn therapy. While one is sleeping, a dim light gradually gets brighter and brighter, to simulate the work of a sunrise.

How do the students at Franklin High feel about this time of year and what it causes?

“To be honest, it’s really depressing,” said sophomore Emily Lavallee. “The lack of sun and the slush that like takes over outdoors. It’s like, why don’t I live in Florida?”

When asked if she felt she was a victim of SAD, Lavallee said “Well I’m not sure I actually get depressed, just significantly less motivated.”

This attitude appears to be ever-growing as we progress into the dead of winter. You just have to ask yourself: am I actually depressed, or just less peppy?

If you actually fell depressed, consider the light therapy. If you are just feeling that lethargy creeping up, try to look on the bright side, or partake in activities that will improve your mood. This will reduce the risk of snapping at the people around you for no reason other than the weather.