NewsCovering Kentucky


Mental health expert weighs in on battling seasonal depression amid pandemic

anxiety, teen, stress, kid, depressed, mental health, teens, kids
Posted at 3:52 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 19:19:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Experts say many people ages 18 to 35 have experienced a heightened depression and anxiety since the start of the pandemic. Now heading to the fall and winter seasons, mental health professionals are concerned about seasonal depression.

Seasonal depression is a depressive disorder, but it occurs on a seasonal basis, said Matthew Southward, a post-doctoral scholar for the University of Kentucky's psychology department.

"We have less light available to us, we have less things that are energizing. We start to engage in behaviors where we are eating more, sleeping more and those things can snowball for some people," he said.

Southward said the isolation from the pandemic can cause seasonal depression to be more common in the coming months. To know if you have it, you should look for common signs of depression.

"That might be accompanied by a sense of sleeping more than normal, craving more foods than normal, doing fewer things that you are interested in, having less energy, feeling more worthless or feeling like your activities are more worthless," he said.

Southward said there are a few simple ways to combat seasonal depression such as getting a light box.

"A little box that you can keep either in your room on your desk, something like that, you can use for 20 or 30 minutes each day to kind of simulate Vitamin D and having a lot more light," he said.

Southward also suggests talking with someone.

"There could be some kind of debate. Is this enough for me to go see a therapist? Or see my doctor? Or do something about that? With the rise in telehealth, it is a really great time to say, hey, let me try this out," he said.