Seasonal depression, winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. Whatever it’s called, it is a challenge that affects nearly 20% of Americans.
People who struggle with seasonal affective disorder face long nights and dreary days. But one of the toughest parts of this issue is that most people who have it, don’t even know it.
Holly Hult is a mother of three who suffers from seasonal affective disorder. For her, it’s “Not sleeping well in the winter, which makes me really grumpy and angry and annoyed, September to the end of March. Every year,” Hult said.
She discovered the source of her mental health challenges because of a neighbor’s suggestion.
“’You must have winter depression.’ I’m like, ‘That’s a thing? What do you mean?’” Hult said.
She discovered a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder.
“A circadian rhythm problem that happens because of the lack of sunlight,” Hult said.
The lack of sunlight is, of course, caused by a change in the weather. So Hult, like others, turn to a different source to brighten her dreary winter days.
“This is my very favorite thing. See?” she said. Her special blue light provides the ultraviolet support she so dearly misses when the sun stops coming out.
“I sit by this for 30 minutes every evening from 6:30-7:00. The other thing that works best is exercise, getting a lot of exercise, I seem to sleep a little better and then I feel better during the day,” Hult said.
Yet no matter how many different resources Hult tries to use, she says that until medical professionals begin to address the issue more profoundly, each winter will still bring its struggles.
“I can cope really really really well, except January and February still are really super hard. I always gain weight those months, I don’t sleep very well those months,” Hult said.
And so she is forced to simply push through each frigid day, using her little blue light to make it to the light at the end of the wintry tunnel.
“And I always tell myself ‘March 15th, you can stick it out until March 15th,’ you know?” Hult said.
Though aptly acronymized ‘s-a-d’, the saddest part of seasonal affective disorder is the total lack of discussion surrounding its presence.