Seasonal Affective Disorder becomes more common in fall and winter months

ASHLAND, OR. — The days are getting darker, and the weather is getting colder.

These changes run synonymous with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that can happen during the fall and winter months.

“The symptoms are very similar to irregular depressive disorder,” said Dr. Tracy Dixon of Providence Medical Group. “So, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, lack of interest in activities in a depressed mood.”

Dr. Dixon said the symptoms hit hard particularly in Southern Oregon as it’s a lot gloomier than in other places.

It can especially impact students who are away from home for the first time.

At Southern Oregon University, a therapist said the most common effect he’s noticed is isolation.

“They may stop attending class because they’re oversleeping,” said Jose Luis Garcia-Gomez. “It’s like hibernating, they’re not having a lot of contact with others.”

Garcia-Gomez said the fall semester has a lot of aspects that can add to a depressed mood.

“It’s also the first term of the year for new students their first time away from home, they’re adjusting to a lot of new things,” Garcia-Gomez said. “Particularly in December, we have finals week, a lot of stressors together. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, sometimes the impulse is to avoid everything and just go to sleep.”

Both Garcia-Gomez and Dr. Dixon said the top recommendations are managing medications, trying different kinds of therapy, getting plenty of vitamin C and D, keeping up with social events and sticking to a regular exercise and sleep schedule.

“I think the biggest thing is being patient to find the right routine that works for you,” Dr. Dixon said. “Once you figure out your perfect equation for what works for you, stick to that, but be patient in trying to find what works.”

For parents and grandparents with students entering finals week, Garcia-Gomez recommends sending care packages and words of encouragement.

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Marcus Veal is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise. The San Francisco native graduated from UCLA with a degree in English. He also played trumpet for the UCLA Bruins’ marching band. Marcus earned his Master’s degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Marcus loves to work out and make pasta. He roots for the San Francisco Giants, 49ers, Golden State Warriors and UCLA Bruins.
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