By Sabrina MacDonald 
BELLEVILLE – Winter is approaching, and some Loyalist College students are feeling more than just a chill in the air. Days grow darker earlier and it’s affecting some students here on campus.
Fitness and health promotion student, Mathieu Leduc, said he experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder every year. He breaks down a few of his ways to combat the wintertime blues. “I watch some TV, get myself to the gym if I can – going to the gym boosts my mood and releases endorphins.”
Daylight Savings Time ends on Nov. 6, and clocks are being turned back one hour. According to Live Science , this results in a tilt of the Earth’s axis, which affects students’ circadian rhythms. The rhythms affect our inner “body clock” that tells our bodies when to eat, sleep and rise.
The “winter blues”, or also medically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression. It begins with the change of seasons when the days get shorter and there is less daylight, causing those affected to feel moody. SAD affects 2 to 3 per cent of the population and are mostly common in young adult females, according to CBC News Canada .
A lack of sunlight contributes to reduced melatonin and serotonin levels which may be the reason a portion of Loyalist College students are feeling an imbalance. Melatonin affects sleep patterns and mood, while serotonin is vital for dreams, appetite and the flow of thoughts. SAD may also have an impact on students’ work ethic and studies.
“Those affected by seasonal depression aren’t getting enough sun, and that’s when it hits. You need the sun and your Vitamin D to get all your neurotransmitters in your brain working properly,” said registered nurse Lauren Deans of the Loyalist Student Health Centre .
Deans says, “There are resources such as counselling in the hub, or the Student Health Centre on campus which provides light therapy boxes.”
These boxes imitate outdoor light and cause a chemical change in the brain that improves moods and eases symptoms caused by SAD.
Light therapy is available to students and staff, to sit or study for 20 minutes while the box emits 10,000 lux of light.
Common symptoms of SAD are the following…
- Lack of energy
- Weakened immune system
- Reduced libido
- Weight gain
- Lack of concentration
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Feeling guilty or worried
- Sleeping issues
- Social/relationship problems
There are also risks involved with SAD. Losing just one hour of daylight is related to negative effects on the mind and body, sleep patterns and obesity.
Leduc’s advice for anyone experiencing SAD this winter? “You’re not alone. Get your nutrition up, try to see the brighter side of things and keep yourself busy. Give yourself that push.”
This winter doesn’t have to be a SAD one at Loyalist College, with plenty of resources available to students on campus and preventions that can help.