Be wary of Seasonal Affective Disorder

With winter upon us, many of us are finding ourselves stressing over getting family together for the holidays, deciding how to spend our money wisely on the right gifts and battling the never-ending cold weather.

But the winter season also brings us Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to Yale's Department of Psychiatry, nearly 11 million U.S. citizens are affected by SAD each year. SAD, which usually begins in September or October and lasts until March or April, is said to affect up to four times as many women as men.

SAD is caused by the lack of natural sunlight reaching our bodies during the winter season. One way it can be prevented is to get active and get outside! Instead of sitting around watching movies all day and considering how much food you ate and how much weight you have gained, bundle up and get outside into the sun. Go to the nearest ski hills, go winter tubing at a nearby park, make snow angels, go sledding.

There are many options for fun activities outside during the winter months. Why sit around and be depressed?



Barack Obama hasn't accomplished much yet

Every year my history teacher gives us extra credit if we guess who is going to be Time magazine's person of the year. This year, however, he did not. He said it was obviously going to be Barack Obama.

He was right, of course, but I am not sure why. What has Obama done for me, or the rest of America? He has given them "hope." Good, but is that hope ever going to be fulfilled? We cannot tell, and I don't think we should think that he is going to be a great hero so early. All he has done is win a presidential election.



The issue now is providing access to all

A close friend was having difficulty finding a good psychologist to talk to about her problems. I wanted to help her by looking through the top doctors, only to be discouraged because every top doctor listed said, "no new patients." She ended up calling a doctor, only to find out that there wasn't an appointment available until March.

Many people are feeling neglect and have nowhere to turn. This is extremely frustrating to those who are in desperate need of treatment.

In this bad economy, there may be more people feeling overwhelmed and becoming depressed. New forms of treatment need to be explored because not everyone can wait three months for an appointment. Since antidepressants are already over-prescribed, I support going to therapy and finding other ways to solve the problem. I suggest an increase in group therapy so more people can benefit from the treatment at the same time. This would also help those who are depressed to create relationships and get their lives back on track.



Don't be afraid to stand apart

In my eyes, adjusting one's behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard (otherwise known as conformity) is a big problem in our society. What happened to individualism? What happened to standing out and being different?

I walk around the mall, the city I live in and the campus I go to and see nothing but people following trends. What's worse, I witness people being harassed, left out and made fun of because they don't follow the norm.

As the great Dr. Seuss said, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer then you."



Marriage is meant to be a lasting commitment

When did marriage turn into dating? I'm surprised by how America treats the sacredness of marriage. With our divorce rate at more than 50 percent, I really wonder why all those people can't get it right the first time around.

I believe the media are partially at fault for this. Celebrities getting married and divorced within months seems to be a popular trend that affects others' outlooks.

If you don't like how your partner behaves, don't get married. If American citizens could just accept their significant others' differences instead of throwing down divorce papers when they knock heads, I believe we would be a lot better off.



Diverted attention from President Bush's actions

Things have gone too far. You know this is true when local news stations treat the war, in which so many brave men and women of our country have given their lives to protect us from the dangers of terrorism, as a mere side note to a story about a man throwing a shoe at the president.

It's pathetic that the man who is responsible for leaving those brave men and women in Iraq for far too long is getting more attention because he got a shoe thrown at him than the people who lost their lives and the people still risking theirs. How many more shoes will it take before he realizes that it all needs to end?



We need governors who want to serve their states

Who does Gov. Rod Blagojevich think he is? He clumsily attempted to trade President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for something he wanted -- cash for his campaign or a profitable job inside or outside of government, even though he knew he was under federal investigation. He must have known he would be charged with some kind of crime eventually. Or is he so egotistical that he thought the law would not apply to him?

This governor needs to be removed from office. The whole state of Illinois is in a crisis while he is in his seat. We need honest and respectable governors who will not follow the same path of corruption that four of the last eight governors of Illinois have followed. We need respectable governors who serve their country and state, not their own needs.



Can one president really make a difference?

Is the economy going to get better soon? How many more jobs can be lost? How many more houses are going to be lost to foreclosure? What can we do for families to keep them out of bankruptcy?

Currently one out of 10 families is behind in its house payments. We haven't hit the foreclosure peak yet. It is going to take at least two to three years to straighten out the economy. And we are still spending $10 billion a month on the war.

With the new president, do you think the economy will change?


the senate recount

Minnesota doesn't have the money to waste on it

Do you have extra money in your bank account this holiday season? Do your neighbors? Does the state of Minnesota?

Unless you've been living in a cave, you know the answer to these questions is no. Our country and state are suffocating under the weight of the largest deficit and worst economic forecast since the Great Depression.

And yet, even as Minnesotans are struggling with high unemployment, a disastrous real estate market and a health care system in crisis, our two prospective senators, Norm Coleman and Al Franken, are blithely spending my family's hard-earned tax dollars on this ludicrous election recount.

There is no mandate for this circus of a recount. Both Franken and Coleman claim to be seeking public office out of a burning desire to serve and represent us. Perhaps I am naïve, but I fail to see how this wanton expenditure is in any way beneficial to me, the average Minnesotan. I can come up with many more deserving and vital uses for those dollars.