Is seasonal depression causing a slump among NNHS students and staff?


Photo by Haley Flavin

With the seasons changing, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has become an increasing concern across the United States. But how do people know when they have the disorder or if it’s just a temporary feeling?

According to the Mayo Clinic, many cases of SAD begin in the fall and last throughout the winter months. This form of depression is often found in teenagers and is oftentimes due to the acceleration in academic rigor as the school year progresses. 

While seasonal depression requires a clinical diagnosis, many Naperville North students attribute their mood shifts to the condition. Nora Malone, a freshman at North, says she is concerned with how the shorter days are negatively affecting her and her peers’ daily routines.

“I feel worse than I did at the beginning of the school year because it gets dark earlier in the day so I feel like I have less time to do my homework, and I think most students feel the same,” Malone said.

NNHS teachers have also noticed a change in behavior among students and staff as well. One of North’s AP Psychology teachers Joanna Berg says that she observes declining energy as the semester progresses.

“Staff and students become a lot more lethargic and are hard to get going. There are studies being done about the lack of Vitamin D during this time of the year, and it definitely affects students and the staff in the morning as opposed to later in the day,” Berg said.

While there is no exact cure for the behavioral and mood changes that can come with the winter months, there are ways to combat seasonal depression and the potential for unproductivity that it presents. For students, Berg believes that good time management skills are necessary during this time. 

“There is a difference between teachers being unreasonable and students not even attempting to have good time management,” Berg said.

Oftentimes, it’s helpful for students to create a plan to get their schoolwork done on time while maintaining involvement in extracurricular activities and jobs. For staff, this means understanding the circumstances of students and knowing how to support them and their mental health.

Making changes to an everyday routine can be helpful for fighting seasonal depression symptoms. Getting enough sleep, exercising frequently, and getting as much sunlight as possible are all good ways to ease the effects of this illness, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Taking Vitamin D supplements can also help combat a seasonal slump. According to the National Library of Medicine, Vitamin D supplements with magnesium caused a “significant decrease in conduct problems, social problems, and anxiety/shy scores.”  

Both Berg and Malone agree that it takes the effort of both students and staff to create a positive at NNHS during these potentially difficult months.

“It goes both ways – seasonal depression affects both populations, so both need to try to help break the negative pattern amongst the school,” Berg said.