Cloudy skies make cloudy minds


Infographic on SAD Photo credit: Gage Northcutt

With mental health often being overlooked as something that some consider a choice, it is important to know that there are internal and external factors which can affect our mood whether we like it or not. It may not be fair, but it is important to talk about.

Are you also feeling down around this time of year? The sun is gone, it’s too cold outside and we generally feel a little more sluggish. Well, the gloom may not just be afflicting our outer sunshine, but it may also be afflicting our inner.

If you love this weather, good on you. It’s good that you can enjoy it. But to the people who don’t, and not only that, seem to find themselves in a mental slump, having SAD might be the reason.

No not SAD as in your feeling sad, although that’s not too far off. I’m talking about SAD as in Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is a “type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons,” this not being entirely different from depression as the symptoms are very similar. I.e. Feeling depressed most of the day, meaninglessness, low energy, high agitation, lack of interest, insomnia or oversleeping, appetite shifts, difficulty concentrating and even suicidal thoughts.

Infographic on SAD Photo credit: Gage Northcutt

While it does seem similar it is important to know the distinction, while people with SADs may also have a depressive disorder, the shift in mood has to be noticeable. These symptoms are known for flaring up during late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Although it can proceed into summer and spring it is not common.

While it may be common to brush off people who are sad on a cloudy day. I want to encourage others to seek out help, when they are feeling low. For others who know someone who may be experiencing SAD, I want you to know that this is not just a state of mind, nor are many other mental conditions. It is not a choice.

A reasonable person would never purposely subject themselves to being depressed. When someone’s problems are undermined we only make them feel bad for having them in the first place. Which creates an endless cycle of issues. Instead, it is important to just offer support and care. Even if that means admitting that you can’t help, instead reaching out to a professional.

If you feel that you match up with these symptoms, please do not use this reference, nor a random internet search, as a replacement for a professional diagnosis. Being sad or grumpy is not the same as being depressed. Depression is a mood disorder that is outside the control of the person afflicted with it.

Find a professional and get help. Depression is serious and should never be brushed off and forgotten. Your future self will thank you for helping yourself today.

Good luck out there during these rainy Chico days. It may seem gloomy now, but all this dark weather is part of the natural cycle of life. Without the showers, we wouldn’t have beautiful flowers.

Gage Northcutt can be reached at [email protected] or @GageNorthcutt on Twitter.