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Daphne Jebens: For many, autumn is time to fall into depression

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Daphne Jebens PB Teen Columnist.

As the cold air begins to blow the leaves off of the trees, it is clear that fall is here.

To some, fall means leaves, sweaters, and pumpkin spice lattes. However, to those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, like me, fall means the beginning of darkness, sadness, and sleepless nights. Fall means the fall of our mood.

Many people out there have probably felt the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but have never heard of the disorder itself. According to Mayo Clinic, "SAD is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year."

For me, my SAD starts around early November and ends around late March. However, I have known some who say that their symptoms begin to show up in the early months of spring and end in early fall.

In order to understand how it feels to live with Seasonal Affective Disorder, think of a day where you woke up early for work or school, opened the blinds, and were greeted with a pitch-black sky. The last thing you want to do is get ready, but you have no choice. So you crawl through your morning routine, feeling the cloud that hangs over your head get darker.

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You get inside your freezing car and make your way to work or school, driving through the darkness. One of your favorite songs comes on the radio, but you don't want to hear it. It's not your favorite today. You turn off the radio and drive in silence. That cloud is growing blacker.

When you finally make it to where you are expected to be, you can't concentrate on what you are supposed to do. You swear you can see the blackness seeping in. The cloud almost matches the sky. Your close friend comes up to you and starts telling you a story, but you can't stand to hear them talk. You just want to be alone, so you push them away. Maybe next time they won't come back.

Your cloud is black and the rain begins to fall. There's no use in trying to control it, so you let the water flow. And as you sit there with raindrops trickling down your cheeks, you can only hope that it won't be this bad tomorrow. But it always will be worse. Living with SAD, this isn't just one day. It's every day, for months at a time.

There are many forms of treatment for SAD, including medication and talk-therapy, but the one that helps me get through the winter is called light therapy. Light therapy is when you sit a few feet away from a special light box, which mimics natural outdoor light. The natural light emitted by the box appears to cause a change in brain chemicals that are linked to your mood.

For me, I use light therapy whenever I am doing my homework, writing, or coloring, and in about a half an hour, I can feel my mood start to improve. There's a reason as to why it's one of the first treatments recommended by doctors — it works!

Overall, my experience with SAD hasn't been much different from my struggle with depression or anxiety. Some days can be hard and some days can be especially hard, but I know that I am not alone. I am optimistic that maybe soon, fall can mean leaves, sweaters, and happiness to me.

For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, see tinyurl.com/n6mrfsr .

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