Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Student’s Story

Jordan Ghita

When Brandon González first came to Seattle from his home in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, he didn’t expect the weather to change his mood.

González felt that his mood immediately became very low, especially during the winter months.

At first, he thought it was just because he was missing his family and his people. After talking to a doctor, however, González realized there was more to it.

González’s doctor told him about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and explained how, although he was  unaware of it, being in a new atmosphere with less sunlight was severely impacting his mood.

With his doctor’s recommendation, González began attending light therapy sessions, during which he would be exposed to UV light mimicking the rays of sunlight. González attended these therapy sessions twice a week, sitting in a room that produced artificial sunlight through a light box for at least 12 minutes.

González believes this form of therapy helped him during his transition to living in Seattle, though SAD still proves difficult at times.

“It’s really interesting how just the lack of sunlight can affect you so much,” González said. “It is hard to stay motivated during winter … whenever I see a little bit of sunlight, I am so grateful for it.”

He adds that, as an international student, it can be especially difficult to stay motivated in a new and foreign environment.

Gonzalez said that even little things help him cope with his seasonal depression.

 “In my case, it might sound dumb, but I have a happy song which I play when I’m feeling this way,” he said. “It has a low beat and is super calm but the lyrics themselves are talking about how whatever you do, in the end it comes down to loving yourself and telling yourself that whatever you’re going through, you can get through it.”

González’s song is “Go Solo” by Tom Rosenthal.

 Additionally, as graphic designer for SCC’s Student Life, González says getting involved in campus activities is a great way to battle the seasonal depression that a number of people are affected by.

“There are so many cool things going on around campus and it can help you get connected with others and not feel so low,” González said.

So, don’t dismiss that yearly feeling you may get as mere winter blues or a seasonal funk you have to tough out on your own. Take whatever steps you can, whether it be having a motivational song, seeking out therapy, or finding a support group to keep your mood and motivation balanced throughout the year.