Winter is Coming.

By Callum Henderson

As November lurches into December and the temperature plummets, as deadlines converge and money runs out, sinking into a state of gloom can be all too easy for students.

Yes, we’ve all felt that winter’s melancholy before as daylight hours drop off the clock. In fact according to the Mental Health Foundation, approximately one in fifteen people in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, don’t laugh!) between September and April.

SAD is not just a mild case of the blues: it’s a real and debilitating depression induced by lack of sunlight, cold weather and dark conditions. The Mental Health Foundation describes SAD as “particularly severe during December, January and February. For some people, SAD is so disabling that they cannot function in winter without continuous treatment,” and most prevalent in those aged 18-30. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, perpetual tiredness and a weakened immune system.

SAD has afflicted inhabitants of the northern hemisphere since it has been inhabited, and in Scotland particularly the condition seems almost epidemic. I myself feel a wave familiarly skimming over the symptoms. In a country where the climate is always against us, is there any sound way to alleviate a low mood?

Well, yes, as it happens, there are plenty.

The first recommendation is exercise, and plenty of it. A good workout regime releases endorphins and dopamine; the hormone that makes us happy. You’ll feel far better about yourself if you’ve lost or gained some weight lifting weights or jogging. And of course, nothing warms you up like a gym session!

Of course, if you’d rather skip the hard stuff, the website is selling custom-made, light-therapy products designed to simulate the experience of sunlight. Be warned though, these lamps don’t come cheap!

But if you can’t afford a new light, or a gym membership, there are other alternatives. Invest in candles and tea lights, light a fire if you own a fireplace, and surround yourself with colours and warmth. Plan a holiday for the summer somewhere scorching; it’s hard to feel low about the cold in Glasgow when you’ve got two weeks in Greece ahead of you. Even just talking to people you know about your mood can be a big help. If you’re feeling down, talk to your GP and ask about available treatment.

And if none of those work out, try hibernation; it works just fine for bears.

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