Winter doldrums clinically classified as disorder

By Josh Nislick
Published: March 2011

As the color green becomes increasingly evident across Newton lawns, South students joyfully say farewell to a long, cold winter.

After three months of frigid temperatures and sunsets at 4:30 PM, spring comes as a welcome relief and marks the end of the darkest season of the year.

Not only are the days beginning to get warmer, but more importantly they are getting longer.

A lack of sunlight is one reason why many people experience increased feelings of sadness and depression during the winter.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a disease in which humans’ emotions are affected by a change in their environment caused by a new season.

This season is often winter, and the absence of light causes those who have SAD to feel depressed.

First discovered by Norman E. Rosenthal, this disease has a significant impact on humans, and those who have the disorder experience mood swings and negative emotions.

According to Richard Friedman of the New York Times, SAD is most common in New Hampshire, in which it affects nearly 10% of the population.

South’s AP Psychology teacher Sean Turley said that SAD changes students by affecting how their brains function.

“Much of the way our brains work is by chemicals reacting to their environment,” said Turley. He added that for those who suffer from SAD, their minds don’t function as well without light.

There is treatment for people with SAD. Light therapy is an effective way to help those with Seasonal Affective Disorder because it provides them with the light that their brains need but are missing in the winter.

Although most students do not suffer from the actual disorder, the darkness of winter seems to still affect many.

South nurse Gail Kramer agrees that light deficiency is the main issue.

“People leave their houses and it’s dark,” Kramer said, “And when they come home, it’s dark.”

Sophomore Sam Ludin said that winter makes his life more difficult.

“When you get home and it’s already dark, it’s depressing,” said Ludin.

Not only do the early sunsets seem to upset people, but the frigid temperatures are problematic as well.

Sophomore Adam Friedman said he feels down during the winter, and that what he dislikes most about the season is being indoors.

Snow contributes to the low spirits brought on by winter as well.

Despite the fact that it cancelled school, the winter of 2011 resulted in some of the highest snow accumulations in years.

The City of Newton was especially hurt by this year’s snowfall because of the amount of money it spent on snow removal, and there were issues about where to put all of the snow.

Newton residents also felt the pain of snow removal.

“When you have to shovel you whole driveway, it’s a pain,” Ludin said.

Still, the root of the depression caused by winter seems to lie in the lack of sunlight, but with the arrival of spring, the amount of light has increased.

The days have begun to grow longer, and with students setting their clocks forward for Daylight Savings the sun will be out much later than 4:30 PM.

With spring comes the return of smiles to South, and students feel that spring is a time of joy and happiness.

Turley said that spring can be a time of relief, and Kramer agrees.

“It is, absolutely.  You see everyone smiling, hanging out,” said Kramer.

Although winter will inevitably return, students can enjoy warm weather and sunlight for at least the next six months.

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