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Doctors worried seasonal affective disorder could be more prominent amid pandemic

Posted at 1:26 PM, Oct 14, 2020

Doctors are concerned seasonal affective disorder, also referred to as SAD or "the winter blues," could be a lot more prominent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is going to be more challenging this year than others, certainly going through all the stress we’ve been dealing with during this global pandemic,” said Dr. Eric French, a psychiatrist with the HealthONE Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

SAD is a form of depression brought on by multiple factors, including less daylight and more time indoors.

It can be treated with a number of therapies and medications, but even that looks different because of the pandemic.

“But certainly, Zoom calls might not feel as personal as a visit, but quite frankly, it works and it’s certainly a lot better than isolating,” said French.

French says telehealth works, as does group therapy, light therapy and sticking to a strict schedule.

“We want people planning their day instead of just kind of hibernating and ending up in their pajamas on their couch and not taking care of themselves,” said French.

He says that historically, October is one of the busier months for adult behavioral health.

They are experiencing a surge in hospitalized patients due to the pandemic, in part because substance abuse and suicide attempts are up.

French also says avoid marijuana and alcohol to deal with anxiety or depression. Instead, focus on getting outside, eating right, sleeping well and staying socially connected.