Dealing With Seasonal Depression During a Pandemic
For many of us, winter brings more than just shorter days and lower temps, it's also accompanied by seasonal depression.
Seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), typically occurs during winter months due to the cold, lack of sunlight, and a decrease in outdoor activities. With social distancing and an increase in depressive symptoms onset by the pandemic, it is expected many more people will experience SAD this year. Our friends at Backline have some great tips to help you cope with the winter blues.
1. Plan Ahead
"If you know that today is ok, but winter may be harder, lay the groundwork," says Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. This includes having a therapist lined up, a steady supply of your prescriptions, weekly calls with loved ones, healthy eating and sleep habits, avoiding excess use of alcohol/substances and safe exercise.
2. Know Your Triggers
Be aware of what might trigger a depressive episode. If you can, write down in advance the warning signs of when depression may be deepening - for example when you stop taking care of yourself or your home.
3. Get A Lightbox or SAD Lamp
These lamps are specifically created to mimic outdoor light. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says people with SAD should use one for a couple of hours in the morning during winter.
4. Figure Out Ways to Stay Connected
Even during the darkest months we know that human connection is really critical to managing our anxiety and depression. Broaden your support network - reach out to those around you or find your online communities, just to know that you're not alone. Talking to someone can help you gauge whether you're having a bad day or if there's something more serious going on.
5. Take Advantage of Online Therapy
Preparing coping mechanisms (like this) will do more than help mitigate depression; it will make people more prepared to handle new crises. The pandemic is a challenge to all of us, and also an opportunity to build resilience.