Since its arrival, COVID-19 has caused a surge of mental health issues. Anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are skyrocketing, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As we enter the fall and winter months, mental health experts are expecting to see an increase in rates of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Many people already struggle with SAD. SAD is a form of depression that happens regularly at certain times of the year. It usually starts in late fall or winter and lasts into the spring. This year is different, though. The stresses of living though the COVID pandemic could magnify the symptoms.
Recognizing the symptoms
SAD symptoms are typically consistent with those that occur with depression. This can include a depressed mood, loss of energy, increased sleep, anxiety, irritability and desire to avoid social contact.
These symptoms are more common in SAD than in other forms of depression:
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Increased appetite
- Excessive sleepiness
- Weight gain
If your symptoms negatively affect your day-to-day functioning, contact your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Treatments for SAD include traditional therapy and antidepressant medications. Light therapy, a daily 30-minute exposure to a light box that simulates sunlight, has also shown promise in treating SAD. These devices are available to purchase online at websites such as Amazon.com.
It is important to find ways to stay active and social throughout the winter. Push yourself to stay engaged with activities you enjoy. Stay connected with people as best you can. Use the phone or video chat to stay in touch with people you care about.