Coping with the cold: How to manage seasonal depression


Emberlynn Pendergraft

Seasonal depression is beginning to take hold of Henderson students as winter approaches

As cold weather approaches, many students are starting to experience one of winter’s worst side effects: seasonal depression. With finals right around the corner and the threat of holiday blues emerging, the last thing anyone needs is to feel melancholy during one of the most stressful times of the year.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), seasonal depression is actually another name for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression characterized by mood and behavior changes at the beginning of certain times of the year.

Symptoms like losing interest in certain activities, having trouble concentrating, sleeping problems, change in appetite, and seclusion, all of which cause serious problems for students as finals approach.

However, hope is not lost for those experiencing seasonal affective disorder. There are a few ways to keep your head above water as the weather begins to change that could help you to stay in control of seasonal depression.

One option to combat SAD is to prioritize social interaction. One of the biggest symptoms of seasonal depression is social isolation, which leads to feelings of emptiness or loneliness. By making sure you take time out of your week to socialize. Something as simple as grabbing something to eat with your friends, volunteering to walk dogs at the Humane Society, attending an event on campus, or forming a study group could keep you from feeling too isolated or alone.

Another method is talking with a counselor. Most individuals diagnosed with SAD are recommended to partake in counseling or talk therapy by a health professional. Luckily for students, Henderson offers confidential counseling to its students at no cost. Students can fill out a counseling form online on HSU’s Student Health and Wellness page and then schedule an appointment, or visit the Health and Wellness Center on the first floor of Mooney Hall.

Sticking to a schedule, journaling, and spending time outside can also help curb SAD. Something people often experience with depression is a feeling of emptiness or lack of control, and giving yourself structure and goals can help alleviate those feelings.

The best way to cope with seasonal depression is to keep a solid mindset. Seasonal affective disorder, just like all other types of depression, can not be “fixed” by just trying to keep positive and avoid the problem.However, by understanding what you are experiencing and remaining steady in that understanding living with SAD can become much easier.

It is important to understand that winter will not last forever, and that you are fully capable of coping with seasonal depression, even when things begin to feel overwhelming. While depression may cause you to lose hope or motivation, keep in mind that sadness is not synonymous to worthlessness, and that it is still important to prioritize your health and safety even when it feels pointless.

Finally, make sure to give yourself time and space to cope, and be patient with yourself when you can. The holiday season can get incredibly stressful, and with symptoms of depression it can easily become overwhelming. By taking time to sit back and take a small break from the hustle and bustle of winter, you can keep yourself from becoming too overburdened.

If you are struggling with mental health, consider seeking counseling at the Student Health and Wellness Center by calling 870-230-5102. For more information, visit

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or call 911 immediately.