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September 21, 2023

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Winter months dampen moods

When freshman Rebecca Gonya wakes up and is greeted by a frigid cold and a snow-covered ground, she doesn’t let it lower her mood.

During the cold winter months, students may find that the harsh winds and frequent snows of Bowling Green affect their motivation and spirits. Some may find it difficult to get out and go to class.

But for Gonya, the solution is simple.

“Bundle up and get through the day,” she said.

Many students will experience a decrease in mood during the winter months, said Dryw Dworsky, director of the Psychological Services Center and clinical assistant professor in the psychology department.

“I wouldn’t call it a dramatic increase, but I do see a lot of mood-related issues in the colder months,” Dworsky said.

These “blues” can be attributed to a hormone imbalance caused by lack of exposure to sunlight, said Howard Cromwell, associate professor in the psychology department. This hormone is melatonin, he said.

“You need to have an exposure to light for a certain period of time to have that melatonin work properly,” Cromwell said.

Altered melatonin leads to both sleep issues and depression, he said.

But the Psychological Services Center is there to help.

The center, located in 300 Psychology Building, offers a wide variety of services to the campus and surrounding community by supervised graduate students. The center helps those struggling with anything from depression to substance abuse, according to the center’s website.

Dworsky said he notices an increase of students coming to the center for depression during winter.

“We do certainly see during these months individual moods tend to go down a bit,” he said.

The center has a number of methods to helps students depending on the case, Dworsky said. These include behavioral and coping methods, as well as light therapy.

Cromwell agreed.

“I think in some ways we might get a little inactive and lethargic,” Cromwell said.

Both Cromwell and Dworsky said students can combat winter blues by staying active, whether it be through exercise or involvement in their campus organizations.

“The trick there is the trigger to get people up and going on a cold day,” Cromwell said.

If students are able to endure the bitter winter months, they will have the reward of spring.

“You get a big mix there of winter blues and spring hope,” Cromwell said.

Gonya, who grew up in Ohio, is no stranger to the state’s winters, but she noticed winters on campus are quite different from those of her childhood.

“I used to like playing in the snow but you don’t really do it on campus,” she said.

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