Seasonal depression, (or SAD), is a very real mood disorder that happens every year during a specific time, especially during cold or sunless months. SAD may begin at any age, but the condition typically starts when a person is between ages 18 and 30 and affects one 1 of 20 people. That fact means that a college campus is prime ground for students to be suffering from seasonal depression.
As for the causes of seasonal depression, expert psychologists believe that the issue is comparable to generalized depression, in that the condition has to do with your fickle brain chemicals! That's right — hormones. The most popular theory is that the lack of sunlight during the winter tricks the mind into manufacturing less serotonin to your nerve cell pathways. Before you know it, subsequent to all that time indoors, your brain cannot optimally regulate your mood, which leads to sensations of joylessness and side effects of fatigue.
Friendships, in and out of seasonal depression, are the most underrated human relationship we have the privilege of experiencing. We are not bound to our friends by law nor blood, just platonic love, and hope for their well-being. By being there for your buds, you act as a crucial element in protecting your pals' mental health and how they cope with the trials that the universe belts at us.
Maybe you or your friend with SAD has been sleeping an abnormal amount as of late.
This exhausted behavior living makes the SAD party withdrawn, so you may find yourself doing more work to maintain the friendship. But continuing to be a positive, supportive presence in your friend's life may make all the difference to them, even if they can't articulate gratitude to you currently!
If you or your friend has Seasonal Affective Disorder, there might be some temporary withdrawal from your friendship happening. Both the depressed person and the pal are facing difficulties in the relationship, so attempt to understand and empathize with whatever he/she may be going through. Some folks need the space to process, others want you to reach out — both inaction and action should be intentional manifestations of affection.
After you decide that you want to help someone with SAD, perhaps you can simply encourage him/her towards self-care. It's consistently proven in science that our brains work best when we practice regular exercise, healthy(ish) eating, sleeping a sufficient amount of time, and staying relationally connected. Going on a tiny hike with your friend or cooking a nutritious dinner together are small acts that have immense impacts. On an even more abstract scale, just getting together with others assists humans, as innately communal creatures.
The most important thing to do is to actively listen to him/her! Do not be afraid to start the conversation and don't be offended if your friend is not ready to finish the conversation. However, by sharing your concerns and asking a specific question out of love, you show that you will be there for him/her whenever the reconciling moment arises. For example, you might initiate the touchy subject, with "You've been having a tough time lately, haven't you? Can we talk about that?"
From this jumping-off point, you can validate his/her feelings and *opt-out* of piling on unnecessary advice.
Let's treat each other with kindness.
SAD should not be as everlasting as severe depression. If you think depression is your case, please consult a doctor or seek help, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255