Coping With Seasonal Affective Disorder In The Pandemic

The beginning of the autumn of this year has been marked by the coronavirus crisis. Fear and uncertainty on what the next few months will be like, if we will live them confined or the contagions will continue to increase unstoppably, has made it a little more difficult to assimilate, both for the body and the mind, the arrival of the cold and the change of time.

Like every year, many are more prone to developing what is known as seasonal affective disorder, characterized by having the symptoms of a depression, Although with the difference that they tend to subside with the passage of days or weeks, when we finally accostume to the low temperatures and the typical winter evenings. Fatigue, general sadness, or loss of interest and mood in daily activities are some of its most common symptoms, as well as having difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

The fact of not being able to go outdoors like other years or reduce social life will make this winter the disorder more frequent and marked

But autumn is not the most propitious season to develop this disorder, but winter. "January and February tend to be the worst months, when the most serious symptoms occur among those who suffer from it," he says. Kelly Rohan, professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, in a recent article published in 'Vogue' on the subject. "The decrease in daylight hours is the main trigger." It goes without saying that this time of year is right after the winter equinox, hence it is the coldest and the darkest.

A winter confinement

Now, What could happen if we develop many of these symptoms while confined? No one doubts that this winter will be very hard for everyone, even if the promise of finding a vaccine makes us dream of the end of the pandemic. Erlanger Turner, clinical psychologist, assures in the American fashion magazine that without a doubt confinement can aggravate seasonal affective disorder. Not being able to go outside as often as other years, in addition to trying to reduce social life to a minimum to stop the spread of infections, they will make the sadness feel more pronounced or deeper.

"The key antidote is for the body to produce more serotonin, ideally naturally, by getting enough sunlight."

But there is a curious detail, and it is that those people who are used to experiencing this disorder every year are more likely to voluntarily lock themselves up at home, so in case of forced confinement they will be more likely to accept it, we might think. It's like the main character in the movie 'Melancholy' by Lars Von Trier, played by Kirsten Dunst, who is much more receptive to the end of the world than the rest. "However," as Rohan acknowledges, "the stress associated with the covid-19 pandemic will make your symptoms worse".

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What to do in case you notice symptoms of seasonal affective disorder? The first thing, obviously, go to psychological therapy, Since if you feel a little sad one day in particular, nothing happens, but if it lasts longer and you perceive that you cannot lead a normal life, it is best that you go to a professional. The most useful tips in order to reduce these negative feelings are to try to receive as much sunlight as possible, which means that you should adapt your routine to make it more morning and less evening. And above all, avoid napping, since the fact of waking up and it is at night is one of the behaviors that can make you relapse into seasonal affective disorder.

In case of not being able to enjoy the hours of sunshine for different reasons, it is advisable to obtain vitamin D that it offers us through vitamin supplements. Depending on the severity of the case, the psychologist may prescribe an antidepressant medication. "The key antidote is for the body to produce more serotonin ", explains Tal Ben-Shahar, professor of psychology. "But the best thing is to treat it naturally, getting enough sunlight."

Ways to stop or prevent sadness

Another key to reducing the chances of suffering from seasonal affective disorder is keep a few fixed hours or so of going to bed and getting up. In addition to performing those kinds of tasks that make us ready, such as showering or dressing in street clothes even if we are not going out all day. As we saw in the past quarantine, it is also very important to focus our attention on a hobby or hobby, which can range from cooking delicious dishes, to exercising, reading a good book that you always wanted but could never finish or playing games with your family or partners. All in order to make time pass quickly.

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In general, the level of fatigue and exhaustion of having to live a pandemic has spread to a large part of the population due, for the most part, to the fact that there is still no clear horizon for this to end. We can only trust the power of science to find a vaccine or treatment in the shortest time possible. And, above all, keep a positive attitude and be close to our loved ones (even if not physically), because it is no longer a mere advice, but rather a series of caring practices for ourselves and the people around us.