Healthy Living: Changing seasons can affect mood

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 8:04 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Living in Alaska this time of year is tough on our internal body clocks. And now with many people working from home, exposure to daylight might not be what it was before.

In this week’s Healthy Living, learn why the change in seasons can affect a person’s mood and they not even know it.

“Around about October, I start to see that my clients normally start to feel more depressed especially once we fall back and the days are shorter, said Dr. Ebony McClain of Ebony Counseling Consulting and Supervision.

“In simple terms, it leads to depression, fatigue and mood disorders in people who are particularly sensitive to light,” added Dr. Lyn Freeman, an Author, Researcher and Counselor.

Both are referring to SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. A type of depression that begins about the same times every year and something they’ve seen quite a bit with their patients.

“They will start experience sadness, depression, feeling lethargic, you know no energy. They don’t sleep well, they can feel when they wake up they’re not really quite present,” said Freeman.

McClain suggests creating a false environment for sleep all year round.

“Blackout curtains, what they call a dawn simulator alarm clock, that kind of gives you a gradual light of the sun as you begin to wake up, doesn’t shake you out of sleep like normal alarms clocks do,” she explained.

Freeman added that any exposure to natural daylight, even on a cloudy day also makes a big difference.

“It can help our energy, our mood state and especially during Covid, light is really important for mood state, it also impacts immunity,” she said.

Exercising for 20 to 30 minutes a day is recommended and fueling your body with good nutrition helps.

In the end, both agree, if you’re feeling down or not like yourself, it’s okay to get help.

“A lot of people know that they very much have sad issues, but others may not recognize that it’s impacting them,” said Freeman.

“If you’re finding that it’s a week or more and feeling down more days of that week than not, then you really need to reach out,” said McClain.

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