As days get colder and shorter, it’s not unusual to feel a bit down. In fact, about 14% of people in the U.S. experience mild mood shifts at this time of the year, which is referred to as the winter blues.
For a smaller subset of people, the change in seasons coincides with something more than just feeling a bit down. These people may have a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you have SAD, which is most common in northern regions where daylight hours are brief during the winter, you may feel sluggish, oversleep, gain weight and/or lose interest in socializing and activities you usually enjoy. You even may have thoughts about harming yourself.
Experts are concerned that this winter may be especially challenging for people who typically experience seasonal depression – and even for those who don’t. That’s because the pandemic has significantly impacted mental health, with many more people reporting symptoms of depression since the coronavirus began spreading than usual. Feelings of uncertainty, stress, grief, worry, social isolation and financial pressure have been taking a toll on people’s mental health for many months and continue to do so. With fewer social events on our calendars and cold weather limiting time outdoors, it is gearing up to be a very tough winter when it comes to mental health.
Whether or not you typically experience seasonal depression or you’re struggling with mental health issues due to the pandemic, here are some things you can do to help manage your mental health this winter:
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