Time to make a plan: Seasonal depression could be worse during pandemic


Expert recommends focusing on what you can control

CLEVELAND (WJW)– As the days get shorter and colder, mental health experts warn that seasonal depression could be worse this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a complicated time with the pandemic intersecting with the time of year that many people start to experience seasonal affective disorder,” said Dr. David Miller, with University Hospital’s Integrative Health Network.

Also known as seasonal depression, Miller said he believes more people are at risk for S.A.D because of the ongoing pandemic.

“The warning signs include a loss in interest in activities that would be fun or generally enjoyable.  People might find themselves more irritable, snapping at other people,” Miller said.

With less sunlight mixed with increased isolation and stress, Miller said those symptoms could be worse this winter. He said now is the time to make a plan.

“Some of those things include keeping structure during the day. Watching your wake times and sleep times. Waking up earlier is helpful for a lot of people,” Miller said.

Miller also recommends light therapy, along with getting into an exercise routine now before it gets really cold.

“People really need to be vigilant in focusing on what they can control.  Not getting lost focusing on what we can’t control. Like, how long will the pandemic last?  When will a vaccine be available Things we don’t have the answer to,” Miller said.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 53 percent of adults in the United States reported their mental health has been negatively impacted because of the stress of the pandemic. Back in March, that number was 32 percent.

Miller recommends talking to a therapist. UH also has online therapy.

In the meantime, get outside.

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