How seasonal depression affects students during winter semesters

Adisyn Graham, Staff Writer & Photographer

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a medical diagnosis that affects a majority of the world’s population. However, the severity is what takes a toll on high school students.
Students with seasonal depression experience feelings such as tiredness, sadness, fatigue, social withdrawal and overall “ill” feelings. Typical seasonal depression starts in late fall and is caused by the lack of daylight.
The length of a day’s gloominess and lack of morning sunlight can affect an individual’s internal clock. This is known as the circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour system that the human body uses to have the energy to complete daily tasks.
When the amount of daylight changes it causes some people’s internal clocks to temporarily be thrown off rhythm.
High school students have the responsibility of getting up early to attend their classes. However, when the human eye does not see daylight at the time of awakening, the wrong signals can be sent to the body’s internal clock.
The circadian rhythm affects almost every aspect of the human body, ranging from blood pressure and heart rate to alertness and reaction time.
With the chemical imbalance and lack of serotonin, this depression can be disruptive to a students’ mental health, daily tasks and ability to perform well in academics.
Several students said that seasonal depression affects their academic performance.
“A lot of time it causes me to shut down and space out in class, causing me to lose valuable information,” junior Emily Ward said.
An abundance of students feel the same, as they are less motivated to do work and interact with each other. Seasonal depression also starts towards the middle of the school year, when many students already feel burnt out. This causes many students to feel socially withdrawn.
“My grades start to drop,” junior Rylee Leach said. “And I procrastinate more because I am not motivated to do my work.”
Lack of motivation is a key symptom of seasonal depression. “I feel less motivated to do my homework and study,” senior Kasey Wells said. “I just want to lay around.”
Over thousands of years, the human body has accommodated and adapted to the seasonal changes. Yet, there is no way of stopping the winter’s darkness.
During the months of winter, the lengthy darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin hormones. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland that sits just just above the brainstem. Ultimately, this causes students’ tiredness to be higher, and their ability to focus lower.
When a student is not fueled by enough energy, their ability to listen and acknowledge what is being taught to them significantly decreases.
There are many ways that seasonal depression and even depression in general can take a toll on students, and it is not always something that is easily dealt with.