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How to guard against seasonal affective disorder in the pandemic's winter months

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Seasonal affective disorder appears in about 5% of the US population during winter months. With social distancing amid the pandemic, this form of depression could hit harder this year. Here's how to prep in order to reduce SAD symptoms.

Seasonal affective disorder could hit particularly hard this year, especially after months of social distancing and limited contact with family or large groups.

"Our emotional winter is coming," said Jaime Blandino, a clinical psychologist and cofounder of Thrive Center for Psychological Health in Decatur, Georgia.

Seasonal affective disorder, also known by its apt acronym, SAD, is a form of depression that some people get for a few months each year, most commonly during the late fall and winter months, as the days shorten.

"I think we can expect a surge in seasonal affective disorder this year," Blandino said.

"Seasonal affective disorder could be worse this year given how much we've relied on the outside as this sort of respite," said Vaile Wright, the APA's senior director of health care innovation.

To receive a SAD diagnosis, individuals need to have episodes of major depression that coincide with a specific seasons for at least two years, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

"There's also a clinically anecdotal risk factor which is just 'how have you been doing?'" Blandino said, noting that the pandemic has affected the emotional state of many who haven't usually needed to worry about their mental health.

"Give yourself something to eat for times when you don't feel like doing anything," Blandino said.

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