More Than Just the Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder and What It Can Teach Us

By Hannah Litwin

This semester is almost over and so is the heat wave. Shifting seasons can influence our moods and elicit a wide array of responses. While some barely notice, there are also those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, referred to as Seasonal Depression, or “SAD.” If you belong to this latter group, with the winter comes a crushing sense of gloom and futility.

Although a specific cause hasn’t been identified, those in the field (including Dr. Richard Litwin, who spoke to The Voice) theorize that those with SAD have higher levels of melatonin produced in their bodies than the rest of us do (all of us produce more melatonin in the winter compared with the rest of the year).

A local named Tawnia who knows a thing or two about managing her SAD symptoms spoke with the The BCC Voice about how she does this. Traditional light therapy gives her migraines, so the key for her is plenty of sunshine and fresh air. From sitting by an open window in the mornings to going for walks later in the day, the prescription for SAD is one that tends to work for any of us, SAD or not.

How do you know if you are just moody, or if your brain has a chemical imbalance? This is what psychologists are for. As students, we are all too familiar with mounting pressure towards the end of the year. Some stress is part of being human. Take a break from the books to step outside, because your mental clarity may depend on it. Berkeley City College students should remember that if they are attending classes this semester, they have access to the Wellness Center, which is located on the other side of K’s Coffee and provides health services (including acupuncture, massage, and counseling). These services are free to all registered students.

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