Family Healthcast: Seasonal depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) — We set the clocks back this weekend and when there’s less sunlight seasonal depression can kick in. This year, between the pandemic, the economy and the election, mental health experts worry that more people will experience depressive symptoms this winter.

U.S. adults were reporting levels of depressive symptoms more than three times higher during the pandemic than before it. That is according to a survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Similar surveys showed young adults, racial and ethnic minorities and essential workers were the most affected. Young adults also showed a sharp increase in suicidal thoughts during the pandemic.

If you’re worried about your mental health, experts said now’s the time to make a plan.

This can include having a therapist lined up and scheduling weekly calls with loved ones. If exercise helps, make a plan to go for a walk or workout indoors at least three days a week.

Maximize light exposure by having your morning coffee at a window and running errands during the daylight.

Know your triggers and write down in advance the warning signs of when depression may be deepening. For example, when you stop taking care of yourself or your home.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness said even during the darkest months, human connections is critical to managing our anxiety and depression.

So, it may be time to get back to using Zoom or other remote ways to connect with people. This was popular at the start of the pandemic, but was abandoned by some when fatigue set in.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255.


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