You’re Not in a Funk: It’s Just Winter

As we bid farewell to summer, which was officially over on September 23, and grapple with heavy rains and cooler air, the mood on Monmouth University’s campus is bound to change. In some individuals, this shift in mood may appear more seriously as seasonal depression, a term many are familiar with but few truly understand. Those most at danger by this change in season are college students, and here’s why.
While the colder weather brings on exciting events like football season and holidays just around the corner, students’ mental health also starts to decline.

People of all ages can suffer from this disorder, but I believe college students are most at risk. As college students, we deal with a variety of stressors, which include academics, extracurricular responsibilities, missing family and friends, and social tensions. With these volatile circumstances constantly changing, coupled with colder temperatures and shorter days, we might as well just go into hibernation.

Lindsey Buchheister, a junior criminal justice student, said, “In the colder seasons when the sun goes down so early, the darkness impacts my mood and my motivation for schoolwork. The darkness makes me feel isolated too since it’s too cold to go outside.”

Conversely, students who attend institutions located in warmer climates don’t have to experience unpleasant weather like blizzards, which keep us cold and feeling trapped.

In fact, research from the study, “What is seasonal affective disorder?” written by the National Institute of Mental Health explains, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) [seasonal depression] is more common in those living farther north, where there are shorter daylight hours in the winter. For example, people living in Alaska or New England may be more likely to develop SAD than people living in Florida.”

Personally, when it’s cold or raining outside, all I want to do is stay inside and get in bed. I am usually an extremely active person and enjoy going to the gym. However, the weather makes it difficult for me to get myself to go to the gym because it brings my mood and energy levels down. Additionally, it’s increasingly difficult to complete work when it looks as though it’s nighttime, signaling to my body it’s time for bed. The cold weather makes it harder for me to complete my work, and I hate to admit it, but causes me to procrastinate.

Nicole Raczkowski, a junior biology student said, “When the colder seasons come through, I lose my motivation to do activities I would normally do easily with the warmer seasons. The colder seasons also make it more difficult for me to keep up with healthier activities like going on a run outside, which brings my mood down.”

Seasonal depression is a disorder that impacts college students in many different ways. The disorder can take a major toll on an individual’s emotional, social, and academic well-being. Together, it is crucial for college students to take care of their mental health as we enter the fall season.