How will COVID-19 affect seasonal depression this year?

News Sep 30, 2020 by Veronica Appia Toronto.com

As we head into fall and winter, those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be feeling the additional mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the inevitable restrictions arising with the second wave.

According to the Canadian Mental Heath Association, 2 to 3 per cent of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. However, another 15 per cent will experience it in milder form.

Tim Aubry, a psychology professor at University of Ottawa, said for those who are prone to SAD, also known as seasonal depression, it is likely that COVID-19 can exacerbate that this year.

“All signs point to the pandemic increasing mental health problems,” he said. “We have the conditions to have more depression and more seasonal affective depression because we're going to be in situations where we are more likely to be housebound, not even getting out to work, depending on how the pandemic evolves over the next few months.”

SAD, which usually shows up in the late fall and winter months, is a major form of depression, Aubry said, adding that research shows that lack of exposure to sunlight and shorter days are often triggers.

He said while there is no data yet that shows that the pandemic will lead to more cases of SAD this year, it is something experts will be monitoring.

He advised that those who typically experience this form of depression should stay connected with their family physician, to discuss possible treatments, such as bright light therapy, through which a person is exposed to the full spectrum of light for a certain period each day.

There are also plenty of online resources Ontarians can access for mental health on the Ontario government website, including a structured psychotherapy program, he added.

Meagan MacKenzie, assistant professor of psychology at McMaster University, said it’s important for people prone to depression to find different ways to mitigate their symptoms this winter, such as ensuring they stay connected with friends or family, even over Zoom or FaceTime.

Aubry agreed.

“With the pandemic, people more isolated, they can't get out to socialize, (they’re) being discouraged to have visitors in homes, dinner parties, family events,” he said. “So, you have to find other ways of keeping in touch and we know that also an antidote to depression – it can make a difference.”

MacKenzie said it’s also important for people to ensure they are getting adequate exercise – whatever that may look like.

“Even though the weather is starting to turn and it's getting colder, it’s also important just to make an effort to get outside and get into sunlight and get some exercise,” she added. “Even if that means engaging in exercise that doesn't really feel like exercise, like walking to the mailbox.”

MacKenzie said some semblance of routine or schedule can also help with depression. This includes doing certain tasks at the same time each day and getting enough sleep.

“It takes away that feeling of uncertainty that we might have in this pandemic situation.”

For those experiencing symptoms that are severe or persistent, however, McKenzie said it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. 

How will COVID-19 affect seasonal depression this year?

‘All signs point to the pandemic increasing mental health problems’: expert

News Sep 30, 2020 by Veronica Appia Toronto.com

As we head into fall and winter, those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be feeling the additional mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the inevitable restrictions arising with the second wave.

According to the Canadian Mental Heath Association, 2 to 3 per cent of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. However, another 15 per cent will experience it in milder form.

Tim Aubry, a psychology professor at University of Ottawa, said for those who are prone to SAD, also known as seasonal depression, it is likely that COVID-19 can exacerbate that this year.

“All signs point to the pandemic increasing mental health problems,” he said. “We have the conditions to have more depression and more seasonal affective depression because we're going to be in situations where we are more likely to be housebound, not even getting out to work, depending on how the pandemic evolves over the next few months.”

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SAD, which usually shows up in the late fall and winter months, is a major form of depression, Aubry said, adding that research shows that lack of exposure to sunlight and shorter days are often triggers.

He said while there is no data yet that shows that the pandemic will lead to more cases of SAD this year, it is something experts will be monitoring.

He advised that those who typically experience this form of depression should stay connected with their family physician, to discuss possible treatments, such as bright light therapy, through which a person is exposed to the full spectrum of light for a certain period each day.

There are also plenty of online resources Ontarians can access for mental health on the Ontario government website, including a structured psychotherapy program, he added.

Meagan MacKenzie, assistant professor of psychology at McMaster University, said it’s important for people prone to depression to find different ways to mitigate their symptoms this winter, such as ensuring they stay connected with friends or family, even over Zoom or FaceTime.

Aubry agreed.

“With the pandemic, people more isolated, they can't get out to socialize, (they’re) being discouraged to have visitors in homes, dinner parties, family events,” he said. “So, you have to find other ways of keeping in touch and we know that also an antidote to depression – it can make a difference.”

MacKenzie said it’s also important for people to ensure they are getting adequate exercise – whatever that may look like.

“Even though the weather is starting to turn and it's getting colder, it’s also important just to make an effort to get outside and get into sunlight and get some exercise,” she added. “Even if that means engaging in exercise that doesn't really feel like exercise, like walking to the mailbox.”

MacKenzie said some semblance of routine or schedule can also help with depression. This includes doing certain tasks at the same time each day and getting enough sleep.

“It takes away that feeling of uncertainty that we might have in this pandemic situation.”

For those experiencing symptoms that are severe or persistent, however, McKenzie said it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. 

How will COVID-19 affect seasonal depression this year?

‘All signs point to the pandemic increasing mental health problems’: expert

News Sep 30, 2020 by Veronica Appia Toronto.com

As we head into fall and winter, those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be feeling the additional mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the inevitable restrictions arising with the second wave.

According to the Canadian Mental Heath Association, 2 to 3 per cent of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. However, another 15 per cent will experience it in milder form.

Tim Aubry, a psychology professor at University of Ottawa, said for those who are prone to SAD, also known as seasonal depression, it is likely that COVID-19 can exacerbate that this year.

“All signs point to the pandemic increasing mental health problems,” he said. “We have the conditions to have more depression and more seasonal affective depression because we're going to be in situations where we are more likely to be housebound, not even getting out to work, depending on how the pandemic evolves over the next few months.”

Related Content

SAD, which usually shows up in the late fall and winter months, is a major form of depression, Aubry said, adding that research shows that lack of exposure to sunlight and shorter days are often triggers.

He said while there is no data yet that shows that the pandemic will lead to more cases of SAD this year, it is something experts will be monitoring.

He advised that those who typically experience this form of depression should stay connected with their family physician, to discuss possible treatments, such as bright light therapy, through which a person is exposed to the full spectrum of light for a certain period each day.

There are also plenty of online resources Ontarians can access for mental health on the Ontario government website, including a structured psychotherapy program, he added.

Meagan MacKenzie, assistant professor of psychology at McMaster University, said it’s important for people prone to depression to find different ways to mitigate their symptoms this winter, such as ensuring they stay connected with friends or family, even over Zoom or FaceTime.

Aubry agreed.

“With the pandemic, people more isolated, they can't get out to socialize, (they’re) being discouraged to have visitors in homes, dinner parties, family events,” he said. “So, you have to find other ways of keeping in touch and we know that also an antidote to depression – it can make a difference.”

MacKenzie said it’s also important for people to ensure they are getting adequate exercise – whatever that may look like.

“Even though the weather is starting to turn and it's getting colder, it’s also important just to make an effort to get outside and get into sunlight and get some exercise,” she added. “Even if that means engaging in exercise that doesn't really feel like exercise, like walking to the mailbox.”

MacKenzie said some semblance of routine or schedule can also help with depression. This includes doing certain tasks at the same time each day and getting enough sleep.

“It takes away that feeling of uncertainty that we might have in this pandemic situation.”

For those experiencing symptoms that are severe or persistent, however, McKenzie said it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.