Wintertime Sadness

What is getting everybody down?

Back to Article
Back to Article

Wintertime Sadness

Photo by James Keeley

Photo by James Keeley

Photo by James Keeley

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Nowadays, dull gloomy days only seem to be followed by bitter, prolonged nights. It is the endless pit of nothingness after the holidays called the third quarter. Classes seem relentless and summer appears to be eons away.

All of this is enough to make even the most optimistic people downtrodden, but unbeknownst to some, the culprit of their misery may lay within their brain.

Seasonal affective disorder, or sometimes (fittingly) called SAD, is a mood disorder in which people who usually have normal mental health experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer.

Lack of energy, a larger appetite, and difficulty concentrating all characterize SAD, as well as feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.

While the cause of the mood disorder remains largely a mystery, speculation points to long winter nights and cold weather affecting the body’s melatonin production, pushing it into a sort of overdrive. Melatonin is the naturally occurring hormone that causes a person to become sleepy. 

According to Psychology Today, seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect around 10 million Americans, while another 10% to 20% suffer from a milder form of SAD.

The further north you go, the more common the disorder. In Fairbanks, Alaska, a study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of SAD in Alaska; out of a random sample of 283 citizens, 26 citizens met the criteria. That 9.2% proved to be one of the highest figures recorded yet.

Its effects can be found, however, even here in Nebraska. “You can’t roll your windows down and enjoy the great outdoors in the winter,” says senior Thomas Kingston. “It’s dark and cold all the time. I despise this time of the year.” The winter blues seem to be getting everyone from Alaska to Nebraska down.

In the last few days, articles have popped up across the internet stating that seasonal affective disorder is a myth. The Daily Mail claims that SAD doesn’t exist, citing a study published in the journal, Clinical Psychological Science. The study claims that “being depressed during winter is not evidence that one is depressed because of winter.”

However, what they published should be taken with a handful of salt, as the study used telephone interviews as opposed to face to face interviews. Seasonal affective disorder has been widely accepted as a subset of major depressive disorder, and by claiming it to be a myth belittles the suffering of thousands. The first step in the fight against mental illness is awareness.