Falling into fall: seasonal and lifestyle changes

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The Fall season is officially here. For many, fall is the time for food, family and festivities. With so many holidays approaching, it is easy for those who suffer from seasonal changes or may not have friends or family to celebrate with to feel isolated. These feelings are attributed to seasonal depression, and it affects many people around this time.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is caused by the change of seasons and usually begins in mid fall. Symptoms of SAD include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, oversleeping and weight gain.

Kasarah Mitchell is a graduate of Rickards High School in Tallahassee, FL. She has openly spoken out about her journey with SAD, after being diagnosed in 2014.

“Around this time, I usually get affected by it, especially since a lot of my loved ones passed away around this time,” Mitchell said. “My best advice would be to show up for yourself as much as possible and try to do things you tend to enjoy.”

Many physicians have theorized that sunlight can be a huge aid in combating feelings of SAD.   According to the Mayo Clinic, phototherapy, psychotherapy and antidepressants can be used as effective treatments. Antidepressants have been linked to other problems such as suicide attempts and worsening of one’s mood.

Nia Queens is an influencer hailing from Virginia, and prefers to use a more holistic approach when it comes to SAD.

“I was diagnosed with SAD three to four years ago, and it sometimes affects my daily routine,” Queens said. “SAD can look different everyday based on who you are, but I prefer to take spiritual cleanses, practice self-awareness and try to live instead of surviving when it comes to times like these.”

\Seasonal Depression may look like many things to people who have never encountered it. On the outside looking in, some people think that SAD is a crutch or an excuse for a person.

Keyara Wilkerson, a self-taught clothing designer, is an advocate and person who copes with SAD.

“Honestly, the best way to get through it is to be around people you love and it can take away that feeling of sadness,” Wilkerson said. “Being alone does not help all the time.”

Mitchell and Wilkerson have both talked about how many are uneducated about the several topics of depression and how it really takes a toll on those who experience it.

“People really think it’s a choice and that we are victimizing ourselves, but that is not true at all,” Mitchell said.

Wilkerson also added that many people are uneducated about it and “don’t actively use research and assume” that SAD is a choice. Together, we can all play an important role by making sure seasonal affective disorder is included in conversations of mental health, and people who are surviving it can have a voice to encourage others to speak out.

If you believe that you are suffering from SAD, resources can be accessed through outlets like The Mayo Clinic. Remember to check on friends and family around this time, as SAD is often a silent battle that many forget or do not know about. Self-care activities, and the activities that the participants stated before can be a great help for those who are trying to pull themselves out of that swallowing feeling.