Interview With Sarah Rosenthal: Counselor
What is “seasonal depression” and how can students respond?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has pretty specific criteria involving depressive symptoms that occur in relation to a change of seasons. Not all students who feel down, sad, moody or irritable during the winter necessarily have SAD. It’s understandable that many students feel a shift in their mood in the winter, when they may feel more cooped up or isolated and of course those feelings can be compounded during a global pandemic which necessitates social restrictions.
My first suggestion is to take a look at the basics of your everyday life- take stock of whether you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting some physical activity. Additionally, even though it’s cold and your tendency might be to hole up in your room, as my colleague Ms. Owens likes to say it’s important to try to “feel the sun on your face” at least once per day -time outside or in nature can help with your mood, especially this time of year. If you can try to pay attention and take care of these basics, that can go a long way in supporting your overall wellbeing. Beyond that, I’d suggest to taking a look at connections and relationships- try to make sure you are reaching out and connecting with others either in person or online to the best of your ability.
How can peers help others dealing with seasonal depression?
If peers are concerned about a friend, I’d suggest reaching out to that friend with some curiosity and compassion. Ask that friend how they are doing and try to listen to their answer. Perhaps try to include that friend in activities, especially ones that involve getting outside and out of one’s room. However, it’s important to remember that it is not your responsibility to fix your friend’s problems or resolve their mental health needs. If you are concerned about a friend, it is always good idea to let an adult on campus know. There are many kind and caring adults on campus who are eager to support students who may be struggling including advisors, dorm residents, counselors, etc.
What are some resources that students can rely on during difficult points in the term?
Again, there are so many levels of support here at DA- from proctors and peer counselors to advisors and dorm residents. The Counseling Center is here and we are more than happy to be a resource for students at any point- no problem is too small to bring our way. To make an appointment to see a counselor, you can either email firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can reach out to one of the counselors directly (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org). We also have a Counselor-On-Call in case of emergency available 24/7. To access the Counselor-On-Call go to or call the Health Center (413-774-1600)
How can students reconcile with the symptoms of seasonal depression?
We all feel sad, down, anxious or irritable at times, but if it feels like these feelings are lasting more than 1-2 weeks, or if there are concerns related to safety, basic self-care (eating, sleeping, hygiene), it’s important to reach out for extra support. Please reach out to the Counseling Center- we are here for you and happy to help you through whatever you may be dealing with.