Seasonal depression effects extend past winter


Courtesy of Flickr

Contrary to popular belief, according to American Behavioral Clinics, many people still experience seasonal depression in the spring.

Nicole Hasek

As snowy weather is replaced by sunny skies, it may be assumed people’s seasonal affective disorder symptoms depart with the winter. However, many people experience seasonal depression outside of the winter months.

“Although we hear a lot about seasonal affective disorder, it is important to note that national rates of suicide are higher in the spring than at any other time of year,” said Michelle Roling, assistant director of Student Counseling Services.

According to the American Behavioral Clinics, “reverse seasonal affective disorder” is common and can happen at any time of the year, while the stereotype of the disorder is that it only occurs in the winter. The only requirement for depression symptoms to be qualified as seasonal affective disorder is for someone to have higher levels of depression at a certain time of year than other times. Ten percent of people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder experience this in the spring.

While this kind of depression affects most people in the winter, the Student Counseling Services is prepared to care of any students’ needs during these busier times.

“Student Counseling Services works hard to provide clinical services to meet student needs at the moment,” said Roling. “We have added several ‘easy access’ services over the recent years enabling students to access resources in the moment.”

These additional services include TAO, a therapy assistance online app that is free to anyone with an Iowa State email, to help with anxiety, relationships, boundaries and changing patterns of negative thinking. There is also “Let’s Talk,” a drop-in service that students can take advantage of two days a week and a “Create your Own Calm” workshop at the beginning of the semester.

Some symptoms of fall and winter seasonal affective disorder are oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain and low energy. Spring and summer seasonal affective disorder symptoms include insomnia, little appetite, weight loss, anxiety, agitation and increased irritability.

Along with changing seasons, depression patterns can also change based on the academic year. These changes are also expected for the Student Counseling Services, and according to Roling, the staff is prepared for the changes.

“Each fall as we near midterms, demand for services increases and then plateaus to the end of the semester,” Roling said. “Each spring we start off with high demand, which carries over from the fall semester. It tends to increase at midterms and then slowly decreases as we near the end of the semester.”

While there is typically a waiting list to get into counseling, every week Student Counseling Services assigns students to appointments with a therapist who has availability. They are also able to help students find a therapist in the community for long-term meetings.