Psychologist offers coping tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Turning the clock back by one hour for the ending of Daylight Saving Time can be a trigger.
“About 4% to 6% of the U.S. population experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) while 10% to 20% have that milder form of winter blues,” said Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, a distinguished psychologist for U.W. Health.
The shorter days and longer nights can take a toll on people’s mental health.
“We saw last winter that there were higher cases of depression because of the pandemic, and so we anticipate that more people are going to be vulnerable to winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder just because of the stressors, challenges and complications related to being in the midst of the pandemic,” said Dr. Mirgain.
According to Dr. Mirgain, S.A.D. can cause people to feel sad for at least two weeks of longer. People could lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Other possible symptoms could be fatigue, concentration problems, sleep issues or weight gain.
“If you look at the prevalence rates overall, we can find that people ages 18 to 30 years old Seasonal Affective Disorder seems to be more common,” said Dr. Mirgain, “and with general depression, women are also at a greater risk.”
Mirgain offered tips to help beat the blues such as getting enough sunlight, exercise, taking vitamin D3 supplements, or using natural light therapy for at least 30 minutes a day.
If the sense of hopelessness continues, Dr. Mirgain said to reach out for professional help.
SAMHSA’s 24/7 National Helpline can be reached at 1-800-662-4357.
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