SAD This Season: Depression’s Effect

Why is winter such a daunting time for students and teachers?


During winter, many factors play into the climate of the school. With holiday break and midterms right around the corner, the transition can be heavy. In addition to holiday break and testing, students may ask: what else plays a role into the daunting time of winter?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common diagnosis around the winter time. Common symptoms vary from lack of sleep or extensive amounts of sleep, lack of energy, as well as feeling moody. In addition, many factors outside of school can play a role into the disorder.
East Lyme High School nurse Janet Binkowski has worked at the school for almost two years, and has noticed how SAD can target students.
“Typically, SAD isn’t seen as much during adolescence, it’s mainly around mid to late teen years. Despite that, we do see a lot of stress and depression in the school at this time of the year. There are a lot of variables that can cause this, especially in a high school setting,” said Ms. Binkowski.
It is hard to determine what the cause of SAD is, as there is no definite answer. As mentioned by Ms. Binkowski, too many variables come in to play. ELHS school counselor Allison Kosswig has worked at the school for many years and explains her theory for causes of SAD in school.
“In my opinion, midterms come in the height of the winter when we are having our shortest days of sunlight. Lack of sun, staying inside because it is too cold out, cutting back on activities and socializing, and, getting less and less sleep from studying all impact mental health,” said Ms. Kosswig.
Socializing and interaction is very important for high school. Add fatigue on top of that, and academics can get difficult. Students can feel heavily impacted by these factors, such as junior Rain Fulcher.
“The winter tends to affect my mental health immensely. I’m not sure if winter has the same effect on everyone, but I do notice a change in attitude as the days get shorter. While the pressure of college looms overhead, it’s hard to keep mental health a priority when you’re so lost in academics,” said Fulcher.
According to Psychology Today, more than 10 million people in the United States are affected by SAD. This occurs when temperature and weather induce stress, and less endorphins are produced. Faculty in East Lyme understand the issue and are available to help.
“You can reach out to any of the supports in ELHS; School counselor (A200), school psychologist (A250), Mr. Clement, the school social worker (A248a), Mr. Backes, the substance abuse counselor (A249a). The key is letting someone know so we can help,” said Ms. Kosswig.
One of administration’s goals is to change the overall climate of the school, according to Principal Michael Susi. Self-care is a large step forward in order to feel less stressed, as well as to help the peers around you.

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