At the start of a school semester most people are feeling happy and excited, they get to meet new people and the sun is shining and warm. But before we know it, winter comes along, the days become gloomy and attitudes become glum. Many people note that their moods vary with the weather, and for some the changing of seasons from summer into winter leads to a form of depression, it is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is most common in young adults, especially women in their late teens to early twenties. General effects include fatigue, excessive sleep, and lack of motivation. The cause for Seasonal Affective Disorder remains unknown, but the best theory known is that seasonal changes of light alter our bodies biological rhythms that control processes like our body temperatures and most importantly our sleep cycles! During the season of winter the amount of natural light is decreased, our brains recognize the season as being cold and that it should conserve energy by doing less (making us unmotivated). Then our body store up as much energy as it can; while I am not an expert on animal wildlife you could compare this to a bear going into hibernation.
The most popular treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder is a trial of intense light therapy called Phototherapy this often helps relieve depression. Phototherapy consists of exposure to bright artificial light for 30 minutes to 3 hours a day. The artificial light helps replace the lack of natural sunlight throughout the winter months. Other treatments include medication such as Zoloft and Prozac which are anti-depressant medications.
There are a few options of light therapy. It can be quiet expensive to find a phototherapy lamp, generally they are sold at a “shoppers home health store” ranging anywhere from $90-$250. Quiet expensive, but worth it. Lower-priced lamps can be found at Costco.
It can be difficult-very difficult- to keep motivated and stay positive when being a student. Tests, projects, assignments, a part-time job, athletics, building a social network. It can build to a lot of stress.
Through multiple journal articles I have read as a student 40% of what brings change to an individuals while in therapy, is what they bring to help change themselves.
Below are some Wellness tools that I find might help you construct and build upon your arsenal of tools to bring that self-help. I often refer my clients to use these tools, but anyone can use these. Having self-esteem is important and I feel that these tools can help with that. While yes, some are plain silly, I think they provide a good laugh. This is not a substitute to therapy and medication, they are Self-help tools to help when your mood is low and could need a boost.
Mood Panda: moodpanda.com This is a great free tool for charting and monitoring your moods, and for keeping track of details for both your own benefit and to assist your doctor in monitoring mood disorder treatments. You can also download it as an app to your iphone/ipod
Rainy Mood: rainymood.com -This is a great site for relaxation. The sounds of rain, perfect for falling asleep, meditating, or reading to.
Emotional Bag Check: emotionalbagcheck.com - A website that is anonymous for support where you choose to vent … or send support, depending on what you feel the need to do!
I Feel Unmotivated: ifeelunmotivated.com I love this site. When I really just want to lay in bed, ignore all my assignments, this website turned that completely around
Need a hug?: thenicestplaceontheinter.net
Who Is The Cutest?: whosthecustest.com Silly, but excellent affirmation
My Body Gallery: www.mybodygallery.com A great reminder that “beauty is only skin deep.’ a good self-esteem booster, this site has a collection of real photos of real people all of whom are beautiful. Just like you are! I don’t buy into what women or men’s health magazine promotes what you should look like.