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Seasonal Depression and Getting Through These Winter Months

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Seasonal Depression and Getting Through These Winter Months

Clare Lawler, Editor

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During the seemingly endless, dreary months of the Chicago winter, many people cope with the same issue: seasonal depression. In fact, around 20% of all people experience at least a minor form of winter depression, according to American Family Physician.

Seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), winter depression, or winter blues, typically  begins in early winter and goes away by late spring. It is more common the farther north you live.

Common symptoms of winter depression are change in appetite (often leading to weight gain), fatigue, a tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, or irritability. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you may be experiencing seasonal depression.

Living in Chicago, we have to deal with polar vortexes, negative degree wind chill, and sunless days for at least four months, December through April.

Doctors hypothesize that winter depression is a result of lower sunlight exposure, both from shorter days and less time spent outdoors.

If anyone is lucky enough to escape to a warm place for spring break, it will likely lessen the effects of winter blues. The warm weather and lack of schoolwork will give your brain a much needed break and improve your mental health.

Personally, I experience a minor form of seasonal depression every time the dreaded Chicago winter rolls around. I find myself eating more, smiling less, and just overall in a worse state of mind.

I combat my form of winter blues through exercise, healthy eating, and spending more time outdoors. I know, spending time outside in these freezing temperatures sounds insane—but it helps.

I run outside nearly every day, because running helps me stay warm when I’m braving the frigid temperatures, and being outside exposes me to the sunlight and fresh air I’ve missed so dearly.

Healthy eating can also help combat seasonal depression. By simply choosing to eat fresh foods, bring your own lunch, or drink more water, you can improve your mental health. You don’t need to make drastic changes in your diet to make a difference—even just getting your daily dose of fruit can help. As we have all heard, drinking water makes a huge difference. It is recommended to drink around two liters of water a day. Not only does staying hydrated combat seasonal depression, it also can help with weight loss, reduce headaches, clear up your acne, and boost your overall mood.

Sticking to a schedule can help with seasonal depression as well; getting a healthy seven to eight hours of sleep a night can have drastic effects on your happiness levels. Admittedly, it is easier said than done—but consider doing your homework earlier and give sleep a shot.

Winter depression is usually manageable if you make an effort implement these healthy lifestyle choices. Keep your eyes set on spring—it’s only 15 days away.

About the Writer
Clare Lawler, Staff Writer

Clare Lawler is a junior at LFHS who is an active member of cross country and track. You can find her work mostly in the In Our Opinion section. She spent...

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Seasonal Depression and Getting Through These Winter Months