Westberg: White Winter, Blue Feelings


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Lacey Westberg

Most people believe that winter is the saddest time of year. The dead grass, the little birds and the bitter cold causing you to not want to go outside can make for a depressing time of year. While everyone may get commonly sad, something many people are unaware of is seasonal depression. Seasonal depression is essentially depression that is caused by the seasons changing, which can trigger a chemical imbalance in your brain caused by the changing weather around you. This affects millions of Americans every day and it may even be affecting you.

Seasonal depression is one of those things that usually sneaks up on you and many people don’t even know that they have it. Signs of seasonal depression can be anything, from changing your eating habits, sleeping more or even just avoiding social interaction. This can be a dilemma for a few people, considering the winter is usually associated with many “jolly” holidays. However, there are many resources, especially on campus, that can help you battle the winter blues.

If you’re ever feeling down, there are a few different things that you could try. Exercise has always been a really good way of keeping people feeling good, inside and out. According to research from Stockholm, exercising has proven to have many benefits for your mental health by releasing serotonin and other hormones that may improve your mood. Another thing that you could try is finding something to occupy your time. For some, seasonal depression can be caused by a lack of activity. Since most outdoor activities have to stop until it gets nicer out, and many times do as bad weather conditions result in a lot of cancellations for events, it can be common to experience a feeling of emptiness. Some people find happiness and comfort in joining recreational indoor sports or by utilizing some kind of art medium that they may not have before.

While there are many different things that could help you cope and understand your seasonal depression more, the first step is admitting it to yourself and realizing that you may need help. Depression comes in many shapes and forms, and it is very important to put your well-being first. If you can’t understand what you’re going through, neither can anyone else. Seasonal depression affects everyone differently, so if you or someone that you know is struggling with what you think may be seasonal depression, reach out to somebody and ask for help.

Reaching out for help is not as easy for some as it may be for others, but it will be completely worth it. I have struggled with different mental health issues throughout the years and reaching out for help and talking about it has been one of the only things that genuinely helps me. Feeling alone or unwanted is one of the worst feelings out there, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With this dreary and sad time of year, it is important to be aware of how you are feeling before making rash decisions.

Iowa State is very lucky to have so many student wellness resources on campus, including the student wellness programs that the Student Wellness Clinic has to offer. Some of these programs include mindful meditation, group therapy and even yoga. The Student Wellness Office is located inside of Friley in office A37. There are also many resources available at the Student Services Building through student counseling, which is open for walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and crisis hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Although seasonal depression usually only occurs while the seasons are changing, don’t be afraid to reach out for help and gather more information on mental health at any time of the year. If you or someone you love is in need of help or feel they are of any danger to themselves or others, please contact the Student Wellness Center, Student Counseling Services or the National Suicide Hotline.