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Seasonal affective disorder mixed with a pandemic create extra challenges during “winter blues” months.

exhausted woman lying downFor many of us, with the winter months can come “the winter blues.” Days are shorter, weather is colder. And with the addition of COVID-19, this winter is like no other. Many have been working from home, isolated due to travel restrictions and case counts. And sadly some have lost family members and friends to the pandemic. We’re all adjusting to a changing world as the headlines continue to scroll in.  

“The winter blues” might be more intense this year. And knowing the difference between sadness and depression can be difficult. 

Am I Sad Or Depressed?

It’s completely normal to feel sad now and then. It’s also normal to feel a bit more sad during the winter months. But depression and sadness aren’t the same thing. And in some cases the depression leads to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

Seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. Another 10 percent to 20 percent may have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. — Psychology Today 

Symptoms of SAD

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can include intense issues with sleeping and eating, increased use of drugs and alcohol, and general trouble functioning. These symptoms feel more intense and severe during the long winter months and may be exacerbated by social isolation and life changes. 

Tips For Getting Through The Winter in Good Mental Health

Here are some things to try if you’re feeling depressed by this particularly difficult season.

  • Take a “news break.” With the pandemic sending many of us into our homes, it’s undoubtedly increased our screen time. While it’s important to stay informed, the constant barrage of the 24-hour news cycle takes a toll. While it may sound challenging, try to work toward only one hour of news a day. 
  • Keep up a healthy sleep routine. This includes going to bed and waking up on a consistent schedule and avoiding electronics in the bedroom. Experimenting with temperature and other strategies will help you find what works best for you. 
  • Get active. Even with lockdowns and restrictions, you can still get outside. Even if it’s just for an hour a day it will provide you with necessary Vitamin D and boost your mood. 
  • Use your support system. 2020 and 2021 have taught us that human interaction is vital to mental health. As isolation has kept us from the people we love, it’s become challenging to maintain those connections. Reach out to your support system: Friends, family, co-workers. Anyone you trust. 

If you still find yourself unable to cope with dark thoughts and feelings, or unable to function in the way you know you’re capable of, it may be time for professional help. This could include medication. Talking to your doctor about where to begin is the best way to start. Contact us today, and we can help point you in the right direction for your best mental health. 

  

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