This time of year can bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. Seeing family and friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying good meals is the emphasis of the season. Unfortunately, though, this can set up a lot of expectation and disappointment. A lot of people had their holiday plans changed because of illness, and this can be enough to set off a mental health crisis in some.
Beyond seasonal depression, some of us and our loved ones will be dealing with depression stemming from a Covid infection as well. Let’s take a look at the two conditions, how we can tell them apart and what can be used for treatment.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This is a kind of depression that occurs in people on a yearly basis. It is more widely known as a fall and winter ailment, but other forms exist in certain people in summer and spring as well. People with SAD usually begin to feel sad around the start of the fall, in October or November. The condition is marked by a lack of interest in life and a lack of energy. People may be moody, uninspired, prone to tears and bored. They may cut themselves off from the people in their lives.
Like any depression, the effects could eventually become disruptive to the sufferer’s life. He or she may miss work or cancel important events. They may gain or lose a lot of weight. It could damage their professional or personal relationships, as well. And all these things can serve to drive the person into a deeper depression.
While this coronavirus is relatively new, there is already talk of those who are suffering from “long haul” symptoms. This includes brain fog, a feeling of being out of touch with one’s self, fatigue and mood disorders like depression or anxiety. Some reported issues returning to work, participating in personal activities, sleeping and body aches.
The really tricky part of all of this is the fact that a lot of these “long haul” sufferers did not have a severe case of covid. They may not know they were affected. They could be struggling with the winter and not even know why. This is why it is so important to be proactive.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The first thing to do, if you or someone you love is suffering, is to contact a trusted physician. They will most likely want to perform a physical exam on you as a starting off point. A psychological exam and some blood tests may follow.
Once you reach a better understanding of what you have, your doctor will be able to recommend some treatments to help you. For SAD, there is light therapy widely available. But for any kind of depression, a course of talk therapy and/or medication may be in order to get back to feeling good again.
The bottom line is, even without the holidays, there are a lot of reasons to be sad in the winter. And this year, there are more factors at play. So, be kind to yourself and get checked out, or help a friend if it is needed.