Seasonal affective disorder: Changing seasons may impact your mental health

Mayo Clinic Health System weighs in on ways to recognize and manage it.
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - It’s almost winter, and as the seasons change, so can your mental health.

“We live in Minnesota. It’s a wonderful place to live, but winters can be tough sometimes,” stated Dr. Graham King, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System.

King said the cold weather and less sunshine can negatively impact people’s moods and energy levels.

Each year, millions of Americans are impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

It’s a type of depression related to changes in seasons. Many with the condition don’t know they have it.

King added, “It’s very concerning, because a lot of times these people don’t realize what’s really happening, because they don’t have necessarily a diagnosis of depression.”

Most people start to experience symptoms during late fall or early winter.

“Changes whether it be their mood, their activity level [or] just their energy levels. Their sleep will change, and they can withdraw. They aren’t as productive at work many times,” King listed.

Symptoms can worsen as winter progresses, but they will fade with the return of spring and summer. Until then, there are ways to help cope.

King mentioned, “Counseling helps, medications help, the SAD light helps. We don’t want you struggling alone.”

King recommends light therapy, which can supplement sunlight and regulate circadian rhythms, or your body’s internal clock.

Other suggestions include increasing light in your home, getting outside, exercising regularly and avoiding nighttime use of screens and tablets.

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