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COVID-19 pandemic could worsen seasonal affective disorder for some

Posted at 6:30 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 18:23:22-04

While fall brings about vibrant leaves and cooler weather, it can also cause seasonal affective disorder. It’s a condition that tends to come and go with the seasons. With COVID-19 still a major concern, some experts say SAD may be more noticeable due to the stresses of the pandemic. Social distancing may pose a risk in the coming months as a result of less physical contact.

Child and adult psychiatrist, Judith Joseph know the signs. Symptoms may include oversleeping, change of appetite, weight gain and feeling tired. It’s a condition that affects about 5 percent of adults in the U.S., and typically lasts about 40 percent of the year. It's also a lot more common in women than men, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

With schools now in session, and reports of an uptick in coronavirus cases in several NYC Neighborhoods, Dr. Joseph said the combination could lead to even more anxiety.

Light therapy may be a good alternative to make up for the loss of daylight. However, she warns patients to only use them under the supervision of a trained medical professional.

Dr. Josephs said you can overcome that feeling of worry by continuing to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines while making self-care a top priority.

You can start by developing a workout routine and sticking with it. Also, boost your melatonin levels by eating foods such as cherries and walnuts to getting a good night of sleep.

The bottom line: don't brush off that sluggish feeling as simply a case of the "blues" or a seasonal funk. When in doubt, contact a mental health physician for advice.