April Showers Bring May Flowers

The facts behind seasonal depression, why it happens, and how to help cope with it.

Brook Newberry, Reporter


As the spring season rolls around, students may feel those “winter blues” they are used to feeling start to fade; however, there is a chance that these blues may be more than just the common saying. According to Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.” Though many people may experience a mild version of this, possibly due to the cold weather or early sunsets, being diagnosed with SAD is very rare and is directly comparable to being diagnosed with any other kind of depression. A person’s daily life, what they think, how they feel, etc. are all affected. 

Symptoms and Causes

Though there is no easy, simple answer as to what causes SAD, medical professionals from Cleveland Clinic have stated that “the lack of sunlight may trigger the condition in people who are prone to getting it.” Their biological clock, which does its best to regulate sleep, experiences change when the sun begins to set earlier; therefore, they may have trouble regulating their moods at the same time. Another believed the cause of SAD is that winter messes with the chemical balances in one’s brain. 

“People at risk of SAD may already have less serotonin activity. Since sunlight helps regulate serotonin, the lack of winter sun can make the situation worse,” a medical professional from Cleveland Clinic said. 

Symptoms of SAD are similar to those of any other depression. According to Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of having SAD include having low energy, experiencing changes in their appetite or weight, having difficulty concentrating, and feeling hopeless or guilty.

Tips or Treatment

Psychiatrist Michael Terman, from Columbia University, has said that light therapy is the “primary, best-investigated, and most successful intervention” to date when it comes to treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder; however, at-home, less expensive options of these devices tend to be untested for safety and efficiency. As an alternative to this, Terman recommends dim-light simulations of sunrise which is tied to the patient’s desired wake-up time. Another important aspect of SAD is educating oneself on the subject. When visiting cet.org/assessments and completing the Seasonal Patterns Quiz, they are given personalized feedback to help them focus on effective treatment. 


  • In a study done by Cleveland Clinic, researchers stated that only about 5% of adults in the United States are actually diagnosed with SAD; however, about 10% to 20% of people in America get a mild form of winter blues. 
  • Among this 5% of adults, 75% of them are women. Researchers are unsure as to why this is, but they did find that SAD tends to develop in young adulthood (Cleveland Clinic). 
  • If one feels as if they are facing a mental disorder, here are some free, confidential, 24/7 national hotlines
  •    SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  •    National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  •    National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663