Seasonal Depression and High Schoolers

How does SAD effect kids and their academic skills?

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Hiba Shaikh

Now that winter has come into full swing, frigid temperatures, greyed over skies and gloom has become the norm, just as it does every year. Seemingly this is not the only impact on students, now that this is the second semester and students are trying to buckle down and make grades.

 It’s already a given that students handle stress during the holiday season due to balancing work and stretching themselves in too many directions at once. 

However, students now have immense amounts of stress due to not only the still active pandemic, but also how the seasons change the way they react to motivation driven tasks. Now, while it is obvious that students struggle with hard thoughts or feelings throughout every season of the year, what does it mean for their academics?

The  American Psychiatric Association says,

“Kids with SAD are usually too tired and unable to focus to do well in school during winter months. Their grades might consistently slip during this time, often in all subjects at once. You may also see them having trouble concentrating at home, and find it challenging to engage them”

While weather may seem like a mere factor contributing to students poor academic performances there is real recognition that goes into how SAD can affect a student’s mental health which then translates into their grades and progress education wise. 

“ SAD impacts every age and most definitely falls under our students and school building” says Student Assistance Counselor Danielle Wysocki

Speaking with counselors about how SAD presents itself raises many new questions as to how one could cope with or manage the symptoms that go along with the specific disorder.

“ Getting exercise, eating healthy, being social and really propelling yourself out of negative behaviors and thoughts and replacing them with healthier ones” says LCSW (Certified Licensed Social Worker) Clinician for Care Plus NJ Nancy Morris.. 

However, every person is different in coping with difficult emotions and the help they may need to cope. Senior Alicia Torres says, “ I have definitely struggled with seasonal depression before. For me seasonal depression is losing motivation for my assignments and some forms of self care, as well as struggling to roll out of bed in the mornings.”

Students can confide in mental health professionals such as a therapist, as atypical as it may seem it may help one to recognize any underlying issues relating to how SAD affects them and their ability to accomplish tasks and finish work in a timely and responsible manner. Students with growing minds may find their inability to manage their emotions with school during the months of winter because of a pressure for students to consistently maintain high average grades and as a result this leads to the neglection of mental health and understanding why those issues are presenting themselves in the way they are.

“ Getting help if you need it is crucial, and also scary. But allowing yourself to heal to create a healthier life for yourself can do nothing but positively impact you” says morris. So if SAD presents itself in you or a friend, talk to a trusted adult, a parent or a school counselor.