How SAD can be worse during COVID and Holidays

December 14, 2020 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a winter-borne depression that's related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. It is common in late fall and early winter. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression or “winter blues”, may include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

This year with COVID our brains have been on high alert for months now, making us feel on edge, changing sleep patterns and our appetites. These changes become “normal” feelings and our brain starts to rationalize the pandemic and becomes not so worrisome anymore. It’s hard to keep believing that COVID-19 is as dangerous as we are told. That can make us depressed about our situation and resentful about restrictions – especially now when those restrictions are tightening.

Holidays can always bring on sadness and depression. From missing ones that are no longer here with us, financial troubles and now COVID can make a difficult time ten times more difficult. Here are a few tips for coping this holiday season:

  •  Don’t give up on the holidays: You can still decorate. You can still cook or bake if you like that
  • Keep your social connections: Have virtual toasts and parties. We can still talk and laugh with friends, as always
  • Keep your family connections: Tell the people you love, how much you love and care for them
  • Reflect with gratitude: Take the time to think about what is important to you during the holiday season this year and every year.
  • Get outside and enjoy the day: Weather permitting.
  • Drive around with those in your household and look at lights:
  • Check in on what you’re feeling: It helps, especially this year, to be aware of your feelings.
  • Spread the love: The best thing you can do to make yourself, and someone else, feel better, is to do something nice for someone. Pay it forward any way you can. Maybe it’s a small gesture or donation, if you can afford it. Maybe it’s finding a way to volunteer. It can be as simple as telling someone how much they mean to you

Whatever it is that you decide to do just don’t sit on your depression. If you are feeling SAD or any sort of depression seek professional help. There are many resources available to help.