Why you should pay attention to seasonal affective disorder during the pandemic

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Many people have heard of the winter blues, but it’s more than just a commonly used phrase — in some cases it can be indicative of a mental health disorder that for some, only occurs in the winter.

“Seasonal affective disorder really impacts probably about five to 10 percent of the population in the United States and basically when the weather starts changing, we notice a lot of folks moods really start to shift,” explained Clinical Program Manager at Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center, Julie Manuel.

She said mood changes are just a piece of the diagnosis. Seasonal affective disorder can also manifest in behaviors that may be uncommon in other parts of the year and take a serious toll on mental and physical well-being.

“We have little sunlight during the day. People’s moods change, meaning that they have low energy. Sometimes what we call the winter blues is actually depression. Some have anxiety. They withdraw from different activities that they might’ve done during the summer time,” she said.

The pandemic and stay at home order have the ability to intensify those feelings this year as they create fewer options for social interaction. She said with those added stressors, people should pay attention to symptoms and reach out when things feel difficult to manage.

“It’s okay to not be okay and I and I think that [people should be comfortable] just being okay with just saying, you know I might need a little bit of extra help.”

She said people should seek help when it feels difficult to perform daily functions or when one begins having thoughts of hurting themselves or others. You can find helpful resources for seasonal affective disorder in the links below.

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