Whether or not you want it to, the weather controls your mood.
You wake up on a Monday morning thinking about the week ahead. You’ve organized your planner, made your to-do lists, and feel ready to take on the week. After your morning stretches, you climb out of bed, put on your slippers, and open your blinds. That’s when you see the snow. The inches upon inches of snow and ice. The snow that you were not expecting to return after a brief sunny patch in early February. Now the snow isn’t really the problem, it’s how the snow makes you feel.
After just five minutes out in the snow, the "I can do it" attitude you woke up with tends to start waning. The weather has such a hold on our mood. A sunny day can make all your homework a bit more doable, and some crappy rain can make a paragraph feel like the weight of the world.
In a state like Washington that is rainy for a good chunk of the year, it's hard to overcome seasonal mood changes. For some, these seasonal mood swings affect their life in major ways.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. It usually affects people who already have depression. It's diagnosed when you or your doctor notices that your depression gets worse during the winter months and better in the summer months. This can cause your medication that regulates your depression to be adjusted seasonally.
I talked to a friend who has SAD to get her perspective on having the disorder.
"I think when I'm at school it affects me more because I have to walk everywhere I go. The rain and the snow and being out in it makes it harder to get places."
She thinks changes in climate affect everyone, especially this winter which has been extremely snowy.
"Constantly being in an environment of snow and darkness makes you less likely to go to the gym or to class and can cause you to sleep more."
Because everyone feels it, the effect can be doubled. When those around you are feeling down due to the weather it can cause you to be even more down. A lot of people also perceive SAD as illegitimate for the most part.
"Many people laugh when you tell them you have SAD because they don't think it's a real disease you can have, especially because everyone has mood changes based on the weather."
As with many mental health issues, education can help, but it's hard for students to know how to go about it themselves. Disorders like SAD are real, even if they have funny acronyms. Putting mental health issues in the public eye raises awareness, so now you know that being sad due to the weather can be more than just an emotion.