Wellness and Prevention, clubs provide resources to App State students with seasonal affective disorder

Michael Lillywhite

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Exam season at school, for many, brings stress and anxiety that can threaten a student’s mental health. Along with exam season comes harsh Boone winters. 

“Students should be aware that the winter is different in Boone, so they need to continue taking care of their mental health throughout the entire academic year, including the winter,” said Elisabeth Cavallaro, assistant director for Wellness and Prevention Services.

According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression related to changing seasons. SAD begins and ends around the same time every year.

Typically, SAD symptoms start in the fall and endure throughout the winter months. However, Cavallaro said it can impact people even in the summer.

Cavallaro advises students to be cautious with self-diagnosing SAD. 

“Sometimes, people mistake typical behaviors that occur in the winter as depression. Seasonal affective disorder is depression, but feeling different in the winter than you do in the summer does not mean you have depression,” Cavallaro said.

Being more tired in the winter is normal, Cavallaro said, because it is darker more often. However, after a certain point, many people affected by SAD are more than just tired.  

“When their behaviors start impacting their ability to function in everyday life is when it starts entering the realm of depression, and that is when they should start getting help,” Cavallaro said. “The same resources that one would use for typical depression can be used for seasonal affective disorder. The Counseling Center is a go-to for any kind of depression that anyone is experiencing.”

Mental health is often met with a certain stigma groups on campus hope to change.

“Our club, Active Minds, makes sure to emphasize that you’re not alone, and no one should ever feel alone. Supporting others is the key to understanding how we are all human and we deserve a world with no stigma,” said Rose Muniz, Active Minds secretary.

As a club, Active Minds works toward removing the stigma associated with mental health. The club meets once a week on Monday at 5 p.m.

“Mental health stigma is how society views and puts a stereotype around people who deal with mental health issues. As a club, Active Minds brings awareness to all different types of mental health and how to be more understanding of what others are going through,” said Gabbi Good, freshman psychology major and member of Active Minds. 

On Nov. 5, Active Minds hosted Expression Night. The night was open to anyone at App State to share anything on their mind, whether through jokes, poetry or songs. It was an “open-minded free to speak your mind event,” Good said.

Along with Expression Night, Active Minds hosts numerous activities to help reduce stress for students on campus, like handing out “stress less” goodie bags or making stress balls in the student union.

“We always have events during exam week to help students during such a stressful time. Most likely, we will do a contact table discussing SAD and what to do to help,” said Isabel Dubose, junior elementary education major and co-president of Active Minds.