Seasonal blues affect student mental health status

By Shane McAdams

Every year at Quincy University we experience dark days. Days without sunshine, warmth, or fresh air. Students have to brave blizzards, ice, and cold temperatures just to get the cafeteria or to class. We lose our tans and hide away things like shorts and flip-flops in favor of parka’s, boots, and sweatpants.

During these winter months that seem to drag on forever, it isn’t uncommon for some people to feel like they are stuck in a rut. However, what many people may not know is that they could actually be suffering from seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD for short).

According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal depression can start in the early fall and continue throughout the winter months. Additionally the clinic encourages individuals to not write off their symptoms as a case of the “winter time blues” or a “seasonal funk”.

The Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with seasonal depression:

  • feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • low energy, tiredness, lack of motivation
  • problems sleeping
  • oversleeping
  • changes in appetite (particularly craving foods high in carbohydrates)
  • sluggishness or agitation
  • feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty

Sophomore Connor Martin commented on life in Quincy during the winter months.

“Winter time here really sucks. If i’m not in class or practice I’m probably sleeping honestly. I end up sleeping a lot more. It’s just hard to want to do much of anything sometimes when its dark and cloudy and cold outside,” Martin said.

Another important aspect of seasonal depression that affects college students in particular is the link between seasonal depression and alcohol or other substance abuse. People often times can cope with the way they are feeling in a number of ways. Some of those coping methods can be useful, and others like alcohol and other substances can have negative impacts.

Macy Ferguson-Smith is a counselor who works for Quincy Medical Group, and is contracted to work with QU students.

“When people think of counselors they think of sitting on a couch and having someone psychoanalyze you. That’s really not what we do, we really just talk to people on a personal level and try and help them through what ever it is that they are going through.The best thing you can do is check up on your friends, you know, ask them how they are really doing not just the superficial greeting of “Hey how are you”, instead ask them how they are really doing. Sometimes your friends can be going through something and you would have had no idea until you ask,” Ferguson-Smith said.

Quincy University has a three counselors on call to help students, but unfortunately none of them have actual offices on the QU campus. The three counselors including Macy Ferguson-Smith are contracted through Quincy Medical Group. In order to talk to a counselor, students have to schedule an appointment with one of the three counselors. To schedule an appointment call or text (217)228-5432 ext.3785 or talk to a success coach in the SSC about counseling.

The return of the sun and clearer skies is always a welcome sign of spring.

With the winter months more or less in the rear view mirror, seasonal affective disorder generally decreases once the weather starts to change and warm up. However, if you or someone you know is having a rough time and wants someone to talk to confidentially, don’t hesitate to contact a success coach and get in touch with one of the counselors.

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