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How to manage seasonal affective disorder during a pandemic

Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 8:29 AM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Mental health issues have been on the rise throughout the pandemic and now with colder weather here and winter on the horizon, that could increase.

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that affects people in the late fall and winter months, as the weather becomes more dreary and the days are shorter. Researchers have linked the reduction in sunlight to the reduction of chemicals in the brain that often regulate mood.

Matthew Fetter, Director of Business Development at Brynn Marr Hospital, says this year, the mood changes could hit even harder because of the pandemic. He says many people have spent months avoiding large gatherings and have been carrying a greater emotional weight during this difficult time.

“Additionally, we are nearing several major holidays, festivities and gatherings that will undoubtedly look and feel different than in year’s past. All of this, along with shorter days and longer nights, can result in SAD,” Fetter explained.

Signs include losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, low energy, trouble sleeping, changes in your weight or appetite, feeling sluggish or agitated, difficulty concentrating and feeling hopeless.

Some ways to cope include engaging in social activities, developing an exercise routine, maintaining proper diet, connecting with a strong support system maximizing the amount of light in your living space.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact your primary care provider or a mental health therapist. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 180-273-8255 or Brynn Marr Hospital at 910-577-1400.

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