As leaves fall off trees and the cold weather begins to roll in, similar to the skies, many people start to feel blue. Teenagers especially seem to get caught in this phenomenon of what is known as “seasonal depression,” or an emotional shift that occurs towards the start of the fall holidays. Although it sounds strange, it is extremely common, but seems to go unnoticed by parents and schools. Despite holiday breaks and events, more attention and efforts need to be put into taking notice of when seasonal depression for students begins and how to help. 

There are many reasons that seasonal depression can affect teenagers. For some, fall holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas can be stressful because it means having to be around family members. These times might include masking certains parts of one’s personality or identity so as not to stir up drama, or having to dress in a certain way to satisfy guests. Breaks from school can be nice, but fall breaks rarely occur without a family-oriented holiday thrown into the mix. For other teenagers, that might include experiencing occasions without certain family members, possibly due to a passing or the restraints put in place by COVID-19. For any teen, it can feel like family events never take place without any sort of issue, which can cause a steep decline in mental health. 

Autumn is near the middle of the school year, which means that compared to the strong start of the school year, many students can start to feel overwhelmed and overworked at this point. Burnout is a very common experience for high school students, and they can start to feel unmotivated to keep going to school and do their schoolwork. Especially with midterms standing between students and the start of their winter break, fall and the start of winter can be a very negative and emotional time period. 

College application due dates seem to roll around at that time of year, piling a new set of responsibilities onto seniors who wish to further their education. With so many steps going into the process, seniors have to worry about testing, essay writing, filling out multiple questions, financial aid and many other tasks. At times, it can feel like the holiday break didn’t even happen due to being swamped with college preparations. After completing their applications, they have to sit around anxiously as they wait for their decisions to come back. The wait can become nauseating and stressful, leaving many seniors in a depressed or anxious state.

With so many things occurring in the fall, students have their plates full with what can be an overwhelming amount of work. However, they should still cherish the time they have off during breaks. Breaks are the perfect time for students to clear and refresh their minds to come back to school motivated. Despite all of the tedious and hectic events that take place in the fall and winter, students should take this time to relax. However, just because some people can relax during winter break doesn’t mean that they all can. 

Seasonal depression can hit anyone, and breaks might not be enough for some people. Schools should take larger efforts to notice when people feel burnt out and should focus on aiding in the importance of mental health awareness. In order to have healthy and motivated students, those in the adult world need to form a more open-minded and accepting community formed on connection and understanding. People should be able to freely express when they’re not mentally feeling well, and others should be able to understand and help others. 

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