Last Updated: November 17, 2021, 8:55 am

Seasonal Mental Health


Saydee Burbidge, a freshman biology major from Riverton, tries studying. During the winter months students can experience depression making school work hard to complete. Photo illustration by Izzy Johnson.

Seasonal mental health can still affect students in sunny St. George as the season begins to change.

The United States has more than 3 million cases of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder characterized by depression during the same time yearly.

SAD symptoms can range but often include: Fatigue, social withdrawal, depression and hopelessness.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, SAD symptoms can begin at any age but typically start between ages 18 and 30.

College students are not immune to SAD. Even if students are not diagnosed with this disorder, they can still experience an increase in anxiety and depression as the weather cools and the semester begins to come to a close.

SAD can be diagnosed by a health professional and there are several treatment options; however, if you are not diagnosed with SAD by a health professional you can still find ways to boost your mood.

According to News Medical Life Sciences, 20 minutes of exercise a day can help reduce depression symptoms. Regular exercise can increase levels of serotonin in the brain.

Dixie State University opened the Human Performance Center (HPC) in 2019 to replace the old gym formally known as the Student Activity Center (SAC). Students, faculty and staff at DSU can use this as a resource to be active.

Susan Hart, associate professor of exercise science said, “Exercise is also associated with quality sleep patterns, daily energy and positive self-image.”

Spending quality time with friends can also boost your mood. Surrounding yourself with people that love and care about you is important when you are experiencing SAD symptoms.

“Getting exercise, good eating habits and getting good sleep are huge when it comes to helping your mental health improve,” said Nichole Rammell, a licensed clinical social worker with Sunrise Mental Health Services.

According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature has many benefits which includes cognitive benefits. Southern Utah has countless outdoor activities to participate in that allow students to enjoy the outdoors year-round.

“Exposure to sunlight has been shown to help people with anxiety and depression,” Hart said. “Sunlight is also a natural source of vitamin D, important for cell growth, the absorption of calcium needed for strong bones, and the reduction of inflammation [helping] you feel better.”

If you find that your symptoms are getting worse, you can schedule an appointment with a counselor at the Booth Wellness Center for additional help with mental health.