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Being S.A.D.: Seasonal Affective Disorder
The winter blues are real
Troy Shawn Welcome

For a while, I've had an uncontrollable fear of winter. Every November, I feel like winter is a guy with an Uzi in my face threatening my life.

To me, winter has always meant being alone, and I always hated being alone. In the summer I could ride my bicycle, hang out with my friends, and work as much as possible in order to fill my time. But February was always extremely depressing. There was no place to go. I'd sleep late on school days, wake up around 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and stare at the television for hours. I wouldn't pay attention to what was going on, because there were a lot of thoughts trampling through my mind all at once.

On the few days I did go to school, I found myself gazing into space. Once, in chemistry class, my mind got so overloaded with depressing thoughts that I put my head down on the desk and I started to cry. I kept saying to myself, "Why are you cryin', why are you cryin'?" I was confused about life, especially my life.

Deep Winter Blues

When I talked to my school's social worker about it, he said that part of the problem might be "seasonal depression." He suggested that I read a book on seasonal affective disorders (S.A.D). I didn't realize that other people deal with this too. Reading the book helped me realize I wasn't alone.

According to the book, these are some warning signs of having S.A.D.:

image by Remy Whitacre

    o Do you hate the changing of seasons into winter?
    o Do you start sleeping more (or less) in the winter, than during the rest of the year?
    o Do your eating habits change? (A lot of people gain weight)
    o Is your energy level lower? Do you feel run down?
    o Are you unable to concentrate in school?
    o Do you get sad, start bugging out, or get irritated a lot?
    o Do you lose interest in hanging out with your friends?
    o Do you feel better as sunnier months approach?

Let the Sunshine In

If you have three or more of these symptoms and they last more than a couple of weeks, you could be suffering from a seasonal affective disorder. If you are, there are many things you can do. Try to get out more often; don't sit around the house. Take a walk to a park, or just down the block. One of the best remedies is exposure to sunlight.

If being alone frustrates you, find something to do with your time. Volunteer at a community center or retirement home. You could also try to get a job. Whatever you do, try to force yourself to go outside, even if it's just for a little while. If none of that helps, it's time to talk to your guidance counselor. Don't let Jack Frost put you on ice.

For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, go to the Mayo Clinic website.

Are you a caring adult looking for more stories to help your youth? Go to, a resource for the front-line staff in schools and community based programs to help teens who are struggling with difficult emotions.

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