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Protection from seasonal affective disorder in the pandemic winter

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Seasonal affective disorder can be particularly devastating this year, especially after months of social distance and limited contact with family or large groups.

“Our emotional winter is coming,” said Jaime Brandino, clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Thrive Center for Psychological Health in Decatur, Georgia.

Its proper acronym, seasonal affective disorder, also known by SAD, Morphology of depression Some people get it in the months of each year, most commonly in the late autumn and winter months, as the days get shorter. It may be prolonged until the next spring or summer. Although less common, SAD appears in the months of summer and may disappear in different seasons.

“I think we can expect a surge in seasonal affective disorder this year,” Brandino said. “It’s a pandemic, elections, and the cumulative impact of the year.”

Seasonal affective disorder

Less sunlight in winter can reduce the chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. Serotonin is often referred to as the “happy molecule” because of its ability to contribute to well-being. We also rely on sunlight to stimulate melatonin production and help sleep. American Psychological Association..

“Seasonal affective disorder can be exacerbated this year, given how dependent it has been on the outside world for this type of rest,” said Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation at APA. I will.

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To be diagnosed with SAD, an individual must have an episode of major depression that matches a particular season for at least two years. by National Institute of Mental Health. This condition is more common in women than in men and affects about 5% of the US population.

This happens more often for people who live far from the equator, for example in dark winters in Alaska. This disorder is also common in women, young adults, and people with a history of personal or family depression.

“There are also clinically anecdotal risk factors, which are” how are you doing? “,” Said Brandino, who said that pandemics are the emotions of many people who usually don’t have to worry about mental health. He said it was affecting the condition. “Some people have never had depression.”

During a pandemic, people are already carrying a greater emotional burden than usual. One of the best ways to prevent Covid-19 is to stay away from rallies, but following public health advice comes at the expense of mental health.

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“Some of the measures we had to take to protect ourselves from the coronavirus are not good for us,” she said. “Our resilience mode may no longer be applicable.”

New normality means reduced face-to-face interaction. In addition, many people are feeling screen fatigue by staying in touch with friends and family using video chat technology. These factors can cause an overt feeling of loneliness that leaves many people vulnerable to SAD this year.

“Of course you are worried,” Brandino said. “It would be unusual for you not to struggle.”

Workaround

Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere is a few weeks. It’s time to plan to see you through the dark winter months before the mercury really plummets. Think of it as a collection of your own mental health acorns that you can benefit from later.

“It’s easy to be creative when you’re not in that depressed place yet,” Brandino said.

Create a toolkit. When brainstorming an approach to avoid SAD, one way to think ahead is to create an idea bank of your favorite methods for self-care, such as long morning walks or late-night bubble baths. Physically exporting them is a way out of the traditional screens.

“It could be a literal box,” Brandino said. “If you come up with an idea, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a box.”

The Covid-19 pandemic causes further damage to people with mental illness:

Wellness Piggy Bank: Spend your time journaling now and think about the little joy around you. This is a practice of mindfulness that really devotes itself to the sensory aspects of our experience, such as the beauty of the flowers in the backyard and the scent of the autumn-scented candles in the air.

Or you may be listening to the nostalgic sounds of your favorite band’s music. It allows us to emotionally re-enter the previous era of our lives when things seem less uncertain. Keep track of these moments and if things feel dark this winter, reread the list or add it to the list with a little joy.

In search of light: When navigating the winter, there are small tweaks on your day that can help you get the extra light you need.

“It could be coffee by the window in the morning,” Wright said. Place your desk next to the window. Or it could be as simple as basking in the healing rays of the sun without wearing sunglasses outside.

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Happy Light: One of the main treatments for seasonal affective disorder is bright phototherapy, which has been described as clinically emotional since the 1980s. Search online for phototherapy lamps that emit full-spectrum light similar to sunlight to find the one that fits you and your budget.

According to the report, exposure to 10,000 lux cold white fluorescent light for about 20-60 minutes may be associated with a significant improvement in mood. 2009 study According to researchers at the University of Maryland.

Cooking on the weekend: If you’re curious, consider cooking a generous amount of nutritious, cozy and hearty soup. “Give yourself something to eat in case you don’t want to do anything,” Brandino said.

Find what you are looking forward to: With fewer special events, meetings and vacations, every day begins to feel blurry. So it’s especially important to plan something special for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or winter vacation, even if the gathering needs to be small, outdoors, or physically separated.

This year, it could mean setting up a special space outdoors with space heaters and glitter lights to invite a few close friends. “What you’re looking forward to is important for adjusting your mood,” Blandino said.

Find a therapist: One of the best perfume oils for a tired soul is still the help of professionals, and telemedicine services have become more accessible during the pandemic. According to 2017, getting counseling online is as effective as meeting a therapist in person. Systematic review study..
Prior to the pandemic, about 20% of US treatment sessions were conducted through telemedicine, Wright explained. APA data.. The number rose to 75% after the governor issued an emergency order to expand access to telemedicine services.

She added that APA is promoting support to make these changes permanent.

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