Calvin College Chimes

Center for Counseling and Wellness director talks “winter blues”




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Calvin director of the Center for Counseling and Wellness Irene Kraegel has a few tips for people suffering with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Commonly called the “winter blues,” those suffering from SAD often feel down, grumpy, have trouble concentrating or feel excessively tired during winter months. Kraegel says that depression is the second most prevalent “presenting concern” at the center and is second only to anxiety.

SAD is a subset of major depressive disorder. To be diagnosed with SAD, one must experience full major depressive episodes. Many individuals can experience some “winter blues” symptoms without a diagnosis.

Kraegel suggests that the winter blues is particularly present in students who are experiencing Michigan winters and changes to their circadian sleep/wake cycle for the first time. Other risk factors for developing the winter blues or SAD include family history of depression, bipolar disorder and living far from the equator. There are also higher rates in females and young people.

To help with the blues, Kraegel says that people can do something fun, spend time with others, go outside, exercise, eat healthy foods, practice intentional stress management and talk to a professional at the Center for Counseling and Wellness (SC 368) or at Health Services to find the most effective strategies for coping during the winter months and throughout the year.

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