Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the "Winter Blues," usually begins to settle in this time of year and is at its worst during the winter months.
But with so much uncertainty and instability due to the coronavirus pandemic, doctors say the disorder, a form of depression which affects an estimated 10 million Americans, may be even worse this year.
“It’s going to affect people at higher numbers this year," said clinical psychologist Dr. Ben Michaelis. "Humans are by nature very social creatures. Without some of the hallmarks of human contact and connection that tend to sustain us as human beings, the odds are there is a reasonable chance that Seasonal Affective Disorder is going to tick up this winter."
Doctors believe the disorder has the potential to exacerbate existing anxiety and depression.
The cold months, flu season, and the potential of a second wave will once again keep many folks indoors feeling isolated and alone.
"Cutting off our social ties and these relationships spending time with loved ones and close friends are some of the things that give our life joy and connection and are very sustaining. Not be able to have these connections or having fewer of them during this pandemic will be challenging for people," said Dr. Michaelis.
However, there are ways to manage SAD. Doctor Michaelis says Plan ahead and make sure you stay focus.
“Planning ahead, making sure that your needs are met and really trying to keep your focus only on the present time as much as possible, trying to predict what is going to happen 6 months down the line is, at this point not a great strategy,” he says.
Most importantly, however, Dr. Michaelis says you should remember that you are not alone and there is no shame in asking for help.
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