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The reality of winter depression at university

by Marine SaintAnd Columnist and Sub-Reference Features

With the onset of winter, epigram Outlines the ins and outs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and how experts suggest treating it.

With daylights shorter, temperatures dropping and work intensifying as we make our way through the hectic first semester of the college year, it’s important to check our mental health. It is incredibly common for students to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as an accumulation of stress occurring at this time, a type of depression defined by the NHS as depression that comes and goes with a seasonal pattern. It is often known as “winter depression” as symptoms usually increase during the winter.

Mental health charity Mind outlines how symptoms have a significant impact on the daily lives of those with social anxiety disorder and highlights the need to destigmatize open discussions about the seriousness of mental health issues. Symptoms and signs vary depending on the individual, but include: lack of energy, finding it difficult to focus, not wanting to see people, trouble sleeping and changes in your sleep schedule, feeling sad, weak, crying, guilt or hopeless, changes in your appetite, being more likely For physical health problems, such as a cold, infection, or other illness, loss of interest in sex or physical contact, and suicidal feelings. For students, there is a clear relationship between these problems and academic stress, loss of motivation, and loneliness or anxiety in social situations.

Seasonal affective disorder is thought to be caused by decreased exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of fall and winter, resulting in lower levels of serotonin and higher levels of melatonin (a fatigue-inducing hormone). Mind and the NHS recommend lifestyle changes to increase access to natural sunlight, using a light box to stimulate exposure to light, talk therapies (download the Student Health app to book in for a consultation or for more advice), arts and creative therapies. If you do not have social anxiety disorder personally, but would like to support any friends, housemates, or relatives, it is essential to support them in seeking help and planning ahead so that they can work on their self-care, and learn ways to speak. With them about their concerns openly and encouragingly.

Sad instructions. Source: Epigram | National Institute of Mental Health

Mental health support while studying at university has long been a contentious issue, often due to limited advertising of help plans and where to seek help on campus. In addition to signing up for the Student Health App to receive university counseling or NHS support, the University of Bristol website offers an online health and living wellness toolkit with career advice, mental well-being and academic support workshops in November and December to help students with loneliness and self-esteem issues and any other mental health struggles. Not all students have access to the support network that roommates, friends, and family can provide, so be sure to seek internal help or maximize available external resources.

The university suggests apps like Headspace, to help you meditate, SAM for anxiety management, and Talk Campus that enables users to share their feelings with students around the world at any time. If you would like to speak to someone directly about your concerns, call Nightline anytime at 01179266266 between 8pm and 8am For non-consulting listening, complete the online support request form or call +44 (0) 117456 9860 So that university welfare advisors can find the right support for you.

In light of the recent World Mental Health Day on October 10, epigram Ask the students how they feel the university supports them. A sophomore expressed how “a lot of people I really know were feeling the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder last year because of the Christmas isolation process.” The stress of exams in this period, as well as the short days make the students feel less motivated, and the frequent reluctance from the university to acknowledge this as a mitigating circumstance is something they can work on improving.

In terms of student-led support, the Student Union Wellness Network is open to all students to join. According to their website, it was created “to ensure that our wellbeing needs, as students, are met by the university’s policies, services and culture. We bring together students, communities, university staff and external partners to: increase awareness of the different aspects of student life that impact mental health and wellbeing; organize events that benefit well-being; give a voice to students with live experience of the policies, services and culture of the university, and campaign for better support for all students with different needs.

“A lot of people I really know have felt the impact of seasonal affective disorder last year due to the isolation process over Christmas.”

Confidence in talking about the impact of seasonal affective disorder and other stresses that coincide with term end deadlines can seem overwhelming, but one way to find a support network can be through the SU Universitywide Friends Scheme, which has already been created for more than 400 student. This time of year can be particularly lonely, so it’s important to get busy with non-academic activities, such as joining one of the university’s many sports associations, picking up a new hobby, or trying out some of the luxury activities and events hosted through student peer support groups or clubs.

Another important way that students actively participate in mental health discussions is through the annual Movember campaign. A related University of Bristol website features a fund-raising tracker with an impressive £60,000 target and a leading panel of top individuals and teams (including 25 male-dominated sports teams). In addition to donations and events, challenges such as Move for Movember in which participants commit to running 60 kilometers for 60 men lost to suicide every hour around the clock show how relevant mental health issues are and how it is essential to find ways to address anxiety and appropriate support to feel well. and validity when opening up about the struggles many students have faced on their own in the past.

“The university’s repeated reluctance to recognize this as a mitigating circumstance is something they can work on improving.”

Seasonal depression has emerged as an unspoken part of college life for many students, and now with the classroom crowded and deadlines approaching, it’s more important than ever to check in with friends, family, and yourself.

Featured Image: Epigram | Edward Deacon

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