The highs and low of fall

The battle between enjoying fall and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Photo by: Sienna Parmelee

The leaves beginning to change colors and skeletons hitting the store aisles are signs that the best part of the year has arrived.

Every part of me wants to be so excited about these changes because, for me, Halloween is everything. Everyone who knows me knows that Halloween is basically my entire aesthetic. However, as I get older I find it harder to enjoy pumpkin patches when Seasonal Affective Disorder is not far behind.

I want to enjoy the change in weather, but all I can think about is how the flowers are dying and the days are getting shorter. I want to stay in the fall season as long as I can and not have to experience winter, but, unfortunately, that is impossible.

Going on Reddit threads and reading what other people go through helps. I don’t feel as alone because, while I hear a lot of people around campus complain about winter weather, I don’t hear a lot about SAD. 

Accepting that I was experiencing the effects of SAD was hard. How could I be so sad when it was my favorite time of year? I could feel my motivation and productivity draining from my body as the temperature continued to drop. I started to think that I was beginning to not love fall and Halloween anymore. In reality, I have something that a lot of people go through.

About 5% of adults in the United States experience SAD. That’s nearly 17 million people. However, SAD affects more women than men. Symptoms of SAD include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, oversleeping and weight gain. 

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why we experience SAD. Some theories suggest we are adjusting to the lack sunlight or experiencing a biological clock change or vitamin D deficiency.

According to the MayoClinic, “light box therapy” is a possible solution to SAD. All this therapy tends to be is a light box that simulates regular outdoor lighting.

One Reddit user spoke on the usage of light box therapy in a thread.

“It’s near my monitor, in a position where I can look at it just barely without moving my head,” they said. “ [I] turned it on in the morning and got better in about two weeks. Since then, I’ve taken a bit more care in the autumn. I wake up earlier (it’s freaky how you can live almost completely without sunlight if you wake up at 12 and waste [three to four] hours before ever going out), [make] sure my windows don’t get as foggy and occasionally turn on this lamp in the mornings.”

While I personally haven’t tried a light box, I have been researching it, and I am considering it because trying to do homework and having energy is tough.

The best thing I can do when I want to do nothing for months is take it one step at a time and go outside to eat as many pumpkin spice doughnuts as I can.