Seasonal Affective Disorder: The February Funk

(BlogDH) February Funke

It’s the end of February. We’ve endured four months of sub-freezing temperatures, rain, snow, sleet, and general grey-ness. Spring is supposed to be coming, but it still gets dark around 5 p.m. Suddenly, the entire campus becomes overwhelmed in a collective hopelessness, a mass movement of misery that drives us away from the textbooks and towards the waffle fries.

9 a.m. class? Pssh, you’re lucky if I’m out of bed by noon. Screw orgo. Homework? Please, there’s whole seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians on Netflix to keep up with. The Ratty? Yes please, I suddenly feel like eating everything, including scrod (whatever the hell that is). Going out? Nah, it’s a much better idea to lie on the floor in fetal position and silently attempt to fill the lack of love in my life with a giant tub of EasyMac.

Basically, the whole campus — male and female — has a communal case of PMS.

There’s a name for this phenomenon: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is not to be confused with Singles Awareness Day. We joke, but SAD is a real and serious problem. If you suffer from the winter doldrums, you’re not alone.

Known as “seasonal depression,” SAD is the depression that affects people during the winter months, typically occuring in the Northern Hemisphere (aka Providence). Doctors believe that the lack of sunlight interferes with our natural circadian rhythms, or our internal biological clocks. This can cause our brains to produce abnormal levels of hormones at weird times, such as increased daytime levels of melatonin (the hormone associated with sleep). This can make us irritable, sleepy, and honestly gives us the urge to devour everything in sight.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone: according to Psychology Today, an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from symptoms of SAD.

Winter has come.

Jon Snow has a serious case of SAD.

Ten to 20 percent of us suffer from some kind of “winter blues.” The further North you get, the more prevalent it is.

Everybody could go into hibernation like a true Brown bear, but for most of us, that’s not an option. So here are some tips and tricks to avoid the seasonal blues:

1. Happy Lamps: Also known as “light therapy,” happy lamps mimic daylight exposures. They pretend to be the sun. Happy light exposure for 20 minutes a day can brighten your mood, regulate your sleep cycle, and reduce your acne. You can buy them on Amazon.com for upwards of around $60, but if you don’t want to cash out, Brown Psychological Services offers “light box” rentals for anybody who wants them. It’s worth a shot.

2. Exercise: I hate the gym. I hate sweating, I hate panting, I hate treadmills, and I especially hate the perky, physically fit freaks students who run beside me while I suffer. But exercise — while painful — improves your mood massively. If you’re looking for a fun workout, try a class, like BodyRox — the dance party work-out that meets three times a week.

3. Food: Our temptation is to eat everything in sight. RESIST. While eating four pieces of cake a day may feel good at the time, it can make you bloated and sickly feeling long term. Try to stick to three normal meals a day.

4. Set an alarm: Try to establish a normal sleep cycle. Have you heard of getting “too much sleep”? Oversleeping is actually a symptom of depression, and it can lead to increased sleepiness throughout the day which cannot be relieved by naps.

Get 8 hours, and then wake up, lazy. You’ll feel better in the long run.

5. Psychological Services: Sometimes, ya just gotta talk to someone. Short term counseling can relieve some of the effects of seasonal depression. Also, you can get the aforementioned light box.

Spring’s almost here, guys. And February? You can go fuck yourself. Good riddance.

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