Checking In: The Importance of Supporting Friends with Seasonal Depression

J.T. Miller
4 min readNov 25, 2023
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As the seasons change and the days grow shorter, many of us find ourselves affected by shifts in mood and energy levels. For some, this seasonal change can trigger a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly referred to as seasonal depression. As we embrace the beauty of fall and winter, it’s important to remember that not everyone experiences this time of year with the same joy and passion. In fact, some of our friends may be silently grappling with the challenges that accompany seasonal depression.

Seasonal depression is a subtype of major depressive disorder that typically occurs at the same time every year, usually during fall and winter. The reduction in sunlight exposure during these seasons can disrupt our internal body clock, leading to changes in mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels. While it’s essential to be mindful of our mental health throughout the entire year, the colder months can be particularly challenging for those affected by seasonal depression.

There are also those who get depressed around the holidays. Whether it be because they are lonely, don’t have a good family life, or have lost loved ones whom they used to spend the holidays with, there are numerous reasons why people get depressed around the holiday season.

One of the most powerful tools we have to combat the effects of seasonal depression is the support of friends and loved ones. Checking in on our friends who may be struggling can make a significant difference in their well-being. It’s easy to overlook the subtle signs of seasonal depression, as individuals may try to mask their struggles or dismiss them as temporary blues. However, a compassionate conversation can provide a lifeline to someone who feels trapped in the darkness of their own mind.

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So, how can we be there for our friends experiencing seasonal depression?

Firstly, it’s crucial to educate ourselves about the symptoms of seasonal depression. Increased fatigue, changes in sleep patterns, withdrawal from social activities, and a noticeable decline in mood are common indicators. By familiarizing ourselves with these signs, we become better equipped to recognize when a friend might be in need of support.

Once we’ve identified that a friend may be struggling, the next step is to initiate a conversation. Approach the discussion with empathy, understanding, and a genuine desire to listen. Avoid offering quick solutions or downplaying their feelings. Sometimes, all someone needs is a non-judgmental space to express their emotions.

Encourage your friend to seek professional help if necessary. Seasonal depression, like any form of mental health challenge, is a legitimate concern that deserves attention from qualified professionals. Encourage your friend to speak with a mental health professional who can provide tailored guidance and support.

In addition to emotional support, consider engaging in activities that promote well-being and combat the symptoms of seasonal depression. Invite your friend for a walk in the park. While it may be cold, bundling up and being one with nature has so many benefits that combat depression. There are other activities you could invite your friend to do as well, such as going to a cafe downtown for a warm drink, going to see live music, or taking a drive to see the holiday lights.

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Let us not forget the elderly, who can suffer greatly from depression and makeup 18% of the suicide rate. Many of them are alone during the changing seasons and many of those loved ones are no longer with them around the holidays.

It’s so easy to dismiss people and say you’ll check in on them eventually. We are all busy in our lives. All of us. Whether we have work, kids, relationships, or a combination of it all. There could always be an excuse.

As the seasons change, let us remember that our friends may be weathering internal storms. By actively checking in, offering support, and fostering open conversations, we contribute to a society that values mental health and well-being. Let’s make the effort to ensure that no one faces the challenges of seasonal depression alone, and together, we can create a warmer, brighter season for everyone.