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  • Karen Sussan, LMHC

SAD (seasonal affective disorder) during COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Winter is always a challenge for those with SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

Through the spring, summer and early fall, the COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc with our mental health. It is likely to continue during the winter months. Depression during COVID-19 should be taken seriously.

There are plenty of stressors like grief, health issues, financial and family stressors as well as the upshot of the election. Usually, stressors are not all experienced at the same time.

For those of us already prone to depression due to SAD, a stream of bad news, this winter season may add a greater sense of hopelessness, as if the situation or experience will never end. It may be harder than ever to maintain a sense of optimism.

Consider after all, the usual winter conditions​:

  1. The winter is the hibernation season. Many creatures hunker down and do not go outside much.

  2. With humans being social animals, people may feel additional sadness with further isolation .

  3. Then, there are those usual holiday blues. This holiday season, however, with limitations in gathering is advised and grief due to loss of loved ones who succumbed to COVID-19 or health complications, depression may be more pronounced.


So here are some tips for those already familiar with seasonal affective disorder and for those who may be at risk for depression that never have been before given how all these stressors are coming to a head.

  1. Try to take advantage of time outdoors during the fall to build some stores of resilience.

  2. Try to sit near a sunlit window or take a break near a window or outside for a hike, ski or snowshoe if you can.

  3. Try to keep your routine, a schedule for waking, eating and sleeping and include regular exercise.

Try limiting or moderating your alcohol consumption.Try talking to a mental health provider of light therapy as exposure to bright light may be as effective as talk therapy according to a study of the American Journal of Psychiatry.You can learn more about light therapy by contacting the Center for Environmental Therapeutics.

  1. Try mindfulness and meditation exercises. While these methods do not make the problems go away, they can have been effective on regulating emotions.

  2. Try contacting a psychiatrist, if symptoms are severe, for possible medication to address SAD.

  3. Try to schedule Zoom time with others. Of course, remote socializing may not be as satisfying as socializing in person, but such arrangements might decrease your sense of isolation. Making a commitment to meet with others can you actually to have something to look forward to.

Preparing a little for this upcoming, challenging season might help. Also, you may consider the option of seeking seasonal support through psychotherapy. Feel free to contact me to discuss the matter.

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