Seasonal Affective Disorder and Students

Written by on November 20, 2019

The days are getting darker, and the temperatures are plummeting. Winter is slowly creeping upon us. Most people see this as a time to stay in and snuggle up to enjoy the warmths blankets and hot cocoa. However, its not this way for everyone. This time of year, students are in the middle of final projects, papers and exams. It is normal for many, if not all, college students to feel nerves and anxieties about their upcoming deadlines.

There are the few, however, who might feel impaired beyond those normal stresses. Those students could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The Mayo Clinic describes SAD as, “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.” SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. Symptoms of SAD start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping people’s energy and making them feel moody.

Symptoms of SAD vary for each person, yet there are some that are common for many.

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

College students who suffer from SAD may also face signs such as not wanting to hang out with friends or be in social settings, sleeping in and skipping classes, slipping grades, not sleeping enough, overeating and severe sadness.

As the work keeps piling up, deadlines inch closer and with no one pushing college students to work through these feelings, it makes these feelings easier to cave into. At Kansas Wesleyan there are various outreaches for students who may be struggling from symptoms of SAD or any other mental health issues. Christian Mitchell, KWU’s Assistant Director of Student Development, sat down to talk about these programs and what students should do. The first one Mitchell named was talking to the University’s DVACK(Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas) representative, Carly Tinker who comes in twice a week. “Students can come in and talk with her, counsel with her, whatever it may be. It doesn’t have to deal with domestic violence, any issues, depression, mental issues, anything like that, ” Mitchell mentioned. Meeting with her while she is on campus is a free service for students.

KWU also works with Veridian Behavior Health located here in Salina as another option for KWU students who may be going through symptoms of depression or SAD. Mitchell said, “if students want an outside resource from Kansas Wesleyan, then we are able to schedule with them, and we cover the first two or three counseling sessions with them as well.” Speaking to a specialist outside of the campus community can be beneficial to students who are falling behind in the classroom because of depression-like symptoms.

Lastly, Mitchell spoke about what KWU Campus Ministries hosts for students. Kansas Wesleyan’s Campus Minister Scott Jagodzinske is a great resource for students. Mitchell stated, “he also provides counseling as well if students need someone to meet and to talk to about issues going on whether it’s school, life, faith, anything like that.” Campus Ministries has also started a new, student led support group called Rooted that specifically discusses mental health issues. It’s for anyone to come sit and speak on problems they are currently facing. “They don’t do specific counseling because they are not certified, but it is support to mental health and knowing those issues are going on, and just getting the conversation started,” Mitchell added.

To get more information on these services Mitchell recommends going to Student Development, talking to their RA’s (Resident Assistants), and any staff or faculty as they are all informed of these programs. Students should not have to go through any struggles they have with depression, SAD, or any other mental health issue alone. No matter if it is about school or not, Kansas Wesleyan wants to be there for their peers, and help bring them back on track.

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