Seasonal depression can hit college students hard; colder temperatures and less sunlight don’t bode well with midterms and final projects ramping up. Luckily, there are many ways to combat the winter blues as the seasons start to shift.
Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons, usually beginning in the fall and throughout the winter, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sophomore biology major, Korelle Baker, believes that seasonal depression greatly impacts college students.
“The increase in the amount of work and studying, and the decrease in daylight and free time impact the mental health of students,” said Baker.
She added that it can be hard to improve your mental health when it feels like you have to continually keep doing schoolwork.
To her, a good option for dealing with seasonal depression and stress in college is being transparent with professors. Baker said that many professors are accommodating and will work with students to manage their mental health and schoolwork.
Another way to deal with seasonal depression is by changing your environment. Sophomore criminal justice and psychology major Rachel Walmsley said that changing up the areas she works in and the people she talks to helps her stay present and positive amid midterms and homework.
It is important to get outside and keep your body moving as well. Many studies, like one from the University of Nebraska, found that increasing exercise and getting outside to walk or soak up the sun improves sleep and reduces anxiety and depression significantly.
Another piece of advice from Walmsley is to make time for people you care about. She said to take the time to talk to friends and family, and that calling or Facetiming people changes up the daily routine of only studying and focusing on one subject.
There are also many resources at UMD for mental health and people struggling with seasonal depression.
A few student-run organizations are, Lean on Me, which is a text hotline that allows people to talk about non-crisis issues, like stress and mild mental health issues. Active Minds is another resource that focuses on advocating for mental health activities and resources in all areas of college life.
The UMD Health Center also has resources like Wags for Wellness, which meets a few times a week in different places on campus for students to play with dogs and take a mental break.
The Health Center is a great professional resource in and of itself. The Mental Health and Stress Management Coordinator, Olivia Mays, is available by appointment to help students manage seasonal depression and other mental health issues.
“Check out the light therapy devices from McKeldin Library for short-term relief and participate in the adventure programs through RecWell if they're looking to spend more time outside during the day to help combat S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder),” Mays recommends.
Light therapy is a way to stimulate a brighter area and is proven to treat seasonal depression for some people according to the Mayo Clinic. McKeldin Library has devices that students can rent to use in their rooms for up to 28 days. Recwell also has group fitness and adventure programs for people looking to get outside and active.
Overall, Mays recommends checking up on friends and yourself to make sure you are staying mentally healthy during this time of year.