Shorter days threaten mental health for some | Health

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – With the clock ticking, the colder winter months ahead and the pandemic still present, the cumulative effect may be a trigger for the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a said a psychologist from UW-Health.

SAD is a mood disorder in which a lack of sunlight causes symptoms of depression in about four to six percent of the population. Another 10 to 20 percent have a lesser form of what is called the “winter blues.”

With so many people struggling with mental health as a result of the persistent COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people with the disorder is likely to be much higher this year, said Shilagh Mirgain, a prominent psychologist at UW-Health. .

“When you look at the impact of the pandemic on mental health, we are actually seeing higher rates than that,” Mirgain said. “We are finding that over 40-50% of depression reports significant mental health issues and even higher percentages, up to 70%, who report having difficulty coping with the stress of the pandemic.

“The real takeaway is that a lot more people will be vulnerable to a bad mood this winter. “

Mirgrain said most people should be prepared to take action on dealing with the blues, and others should be tuned in to possible depression and how to deal with it.

As the days grow shorter and life moves indoors, Mirgrain said people should get as much light in the morning as possible by opening the curtains, having breakfast or reading the newspaper in front of a window. to get as much natural light as possible.

It’s also important to take advantage of sunny days and get out as much as possible, she added.

Those with the more severe episodes of SAD can speak with their doctor about light therapy, which could include using a softbox that simulates natural light.

Along with this, she also advises adding a vitamin D-3 supplement to help reduce the amount of vitamin you might receive during the winter.

She also advises to maintain a good sleep / wake schedule and to take care of yourself by eating well, avoiding sweets, exercising and limiting alcohol consumption.

Above all, it’s important to avoid the temptation to stay home due to the cold by planning now how to include tours and gatherings while adhering to important physical distancing recommendations to fight the coronavirus.


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