It’s that time of year. The days turn shorter. The sun turns shy, sometimes peeking out for only moments a day. It’s only natural to feel a little blue. This year may look and feel a bit different. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in depression and anxiety. People are juggling and struggling. Many are worried about loved ones and what the future will bring. As winter approaches, people will stay inside, feeling more isolated. This could turn seasonal blues into serious depression.
Seasonal blues or SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of clinical depression that can cause symptoms such as low energy, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest, and feelings of hopelessness. Daylight walks, healthy eating, and a regular sleep schedule can help. Here are a few added tips.
Get motivated and stay moving. Brisk walking, jogging, riding a stationary bike, or any activities that raise your heart rate can also boost your mood. Moderate exercise is safe for most people. But it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Consider light therapy. Although nothing can replace sunshine, some people like to sit 20 to 60 minutes every morning in front of a white fluorescent lightbox. Do not use ultraviolet light, fullspectrum light, heat lamps, or tanning lamps for light therapy.
Discuss your medication options. Antidepressants may offer relief for people who have SAD. If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant, take it as directed. Stopping suddenly could make your depression worse. Your doctor can slowly reduce the dose.
How To Shake Off Feelings of Isolation
Phone a friend. Sometimes a phone is just a phone. You don’t always need a virtual get together to connect. Reach out to friends, even those you may not have talked with recently. You’ll cheer them up, too!
Do what you love. Boredom, especially now, can cause your mind to race with negative thoughts. Keeping busy with activities you enjoy can shift your feelings from helpless to hopeful. Try something new.
Have a grateful heart. Think about all that is good in your life. Focus on the people and things you are grateful for at least once a day. Some people like to keep a “grateful journal,” that keeps growing.
Seek out online support groups. Many local community organizations now offer a virtual place to connect. You can make new friends, receive and offer encouragement, and feel more connected to others.
When to Reach Out
If you think you are depressed, reach out to your provider. Ask about in person or telehealth options. Visit QuartzBenefits.com/findadoctor to find a behavioral health provider in your network. If you have questions about behavioral health services, including alcohol and drug treatment services, call Quartz Behavioral Health Care Management at (800) 683-2300.