While Autumn is arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year, especially at Rocky Mountain College, it is also a time where Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) becomes more common. SAD is a depression that specifically relates to change of seasons. For an individual, it happens at the same time each year- fall to winter, winter to summer, etc. The most common type of SAD begins in late fall or early winter and goes through to the spring or summer, which is especially important to know on a college campus.
The most important step in making sure that you are not overly affected by SAD is to be able to recognize the symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms seen in someone affected by the fall/winter aspect of SAD are weight gain, hypersomnia, and irregular carbohydrate cravings.
SAD can cause you to feel like you can’t make it to class. If this is the case, let your professors know ahead of time and explain the situation to them. Rocky is known for having some of the most understanding professors out there. Most importantly, take care of yourself. If this means you need to curl up and drink some tea while reading your favorite book, do that. If it means walking around Target just so you can get off campus, do that.
Once you have identified yourself as having these symptoms, it is important that you determine if they are because you are dealing with SAD or if there is a different issue going on, such as depression. While you cannot necessarily stop yourself from undergoing these symptoms, you can minimize some of their negative effects. For example, if you notice yourself gaining weight, try doing a mini workout a couple days a week. This will not only help control your weight, but it will help with tiring your body out so that you get a better night’s sleep. By making sure you get a good night’s sleep you also lessen the chance of suffering from hypersomnia. When you catch yourself craving carbohydrates, try to have a more filling, healthier snack, such as fruits or vegetables. Remember there is always an alternative to what the SAD wants you to do.
If you notice yourself experiencing these symptoms, know that it is okay and that you are not alone. Reach out to someone you trust such as a friend, a family member, a Resident Advisor, anyone, and let them know how you are feeling. Feel free to make use of the on-campus counselor, Cynthia Hutchinson, located in Alden Hall room 106. SAD can make the colder weather feel worse, but with the right steps taken, it does not have to be the worst.