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EKU counselor gives tips to battle seasonal depression as pandemic continues

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 2:05 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is associated with seasonal depression and affects 10 million Americans each year.

It happens every fall and winter season but this year will be more challenging because of physical distancing from COVID-19. So, what can you do to avoid seasonal depression and maintain happiness?

“What seems to happen with seasonal depression, is that it’s on a cyclical pattern when the days start getting shorter,” said Dr. Melissa Bartsch.

Dr. Bartsch is the director of EKU’s Counseling Center. She says this is the time of year some of us go into “hibernation mode.”

“A lot of people who deal with this and start to feel sad or more lethargic, have less energy, is not concentrating as well, maybe they’re sleeping more and eating more,” Bartsch said.

Bartsch says Kentuckians are certainly affected by SAD because we have a lot of gray cloudy days during this time. And the group most affected are 18 to 30-year-old women. But, as we all know, 2020 is just different.

You have the physical distancing imposed by COVID-19, mixed with the upcoming holidays, mixed with seasonal depression and that can create a bad recipe.

For many many, people spending time with loved ones just fills up their cup and certainly, a lot of things that happen in 2020 have the pleated the reserves that we have," Bartsch said.

So, how can we turn that frown upside down?

“Scheduling virtual events, scheduling time with people, getting enough sleep, getting exercise, making sure that we’re still eating healthy,” Bartsch said. “Physical distance doesn’t mean we have to be emotional or social distance.”

Another suggestion, Dr. Bartsch says buy a lightbox. It will supplement the sunlight you don’t necessarily get from the outside.

Hopefully, those are the ingredients to make the holidays happy.

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