Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is essentially a depression that occurs yearly at the same time (or season). This could be a depression that starts in the fall, gets worse throughout the winter months, and typically ends around the spring time. For some people, it is flipped, with a depression setting in around spring time, lasting through the summer months, and ending around fall/winter. With individuals with bipolar disorder, seasonal depression can induce mania. People who have seasonal depression may have bouts of moodiness, cloudiness, trouble sleeping, or extended periods of sadness. People who have seasonal depression feel and display practically any other symptom that those with manic depression or clinical depression would. This means that it isn't just the blues, or the start of a new school year, or even cabin fever. It's not just being sad that summer is over and we're moving into fall. It is a real depression that occurs that can swallow people whole. It's a real depression that eats at people and makes them feel alone, so I wish more people took it seriously.

Some believe that the cause is unknown. Some people believe that it has something to do with the changes and availability with sunlight. Others believe that the neurotransmitters that carry serotonin might be different with people who experience seasonal depression. Some people think phototherapy cures individuals, while others think medication is the answer. Whatever the cause or cure may be, the point is abundantly clear: seasonal depression is a real thing, so lets start treating it as such.

If there is one thing you can take away from this is to check on your friends who experience seasonal depression. They are valid and they are heard, and sometimes they may just need to be reminded of that. Care for those around you. Let them know that they are loved, they are kind, and that they are special to you and everyone they encounter. If you think you are experiencing something around the change of seasons that isn't just a temporary sadness, but rather could possibly be seasonal depression, please talk to your doctor. You are valid. You are heard. You are loved. Seek help if you feel that you need it, and reach out to loved ones for support and resources.

It's not just the blues. Take care of yourself.

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for more resources.