Seasonal Affective Disorder and Coronavirus

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that is tied to the changing seasons. Symptoms usually begin in the fall as the days get shorter and there is less sunlight to our days. These symptoms can progress and worsen through winter. SAD has been linked to decrease in exposure to sunlight, this can cause disruption to the circadian rhythm (body’s internal clock) and affect levels of serotonin and melatonin levels. Furthermore, SAD affects more women than men. Symptoms include;
  • Sad, despairing mood (that is present most days and lasts longer than 2 weeks)
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Trouble sleeping (either too much or not enough)
  • Loss of interest in work, people and hobbies
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feeling useless, helpless, lower self-esteem
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • (Read more: Center for Addiction and Mental Health)
This year, SAD is particularly challenging because people are already experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression due to the global pandemic. Our lives are so uncertain right now, will we go back into lockdown? If we do for how much longer? Will Covid-19 continue to disrupt our daily lives? And in what ways will it disrupt our lives? There are so many unanswered questions. A few things to help us cope as we move into winter are scheduling hobbies, trying to maintain our support system and light therapy. Setting a schedule for the week can help maintain balance and provide a sense of purpose, try to schedule coping activities and meeting with friends. Furthermore, talk therapy and light therapy can also help one cope with this year’s unusual set of stressors on top of SAD. Please check in on your friends and family as we head into this holiday season.