With millions of Americans still out of work and COVID-19 cases on the rise, pandemic-related stress is still with us. Now, we're carrying that emotional burden into the cold, short days of winter.
With that, 7 Action News' Keenan Smith went looking for advice on how to handle the one-two mental health punch of seasonal affective disorder and stress.
Wayne County Community College student Nour Mandough suffers from depression and said she the lows get more intense when the days are short. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
"It's a lot harder to get up in the morning. I feel extreme fatigue," she said.
In addition to mood swings and irritability, Mandough says she feels a sense of isolation. She said she fears her depression will get worse as winter sets in.
"The symptoms are just, you know, increased and they're feeling a lot more severe this time of the year," she said.
Licensed Professional Counselor Kelly Houseman says rates of seasonal depression increase the farther north you go and can affect people of all ages or backgrounds.
Symptoms include: irritability, feeling lethargic, loss of interest in things you normally do and more.
Combine that with the heaviness of a pandemic. Some of the isolation, all of the strong emotions coming about. It's kind of like the perfect storm of two things coming together this year for many people," Houseman said.
She said to tackle depression and anxiety with short-term goals. Make it through the day or a project.
"You know, because if we start thinking about too much into the future. That's what usually causes anxiety. So just trying to tackle here now in the moment," Houseman said.
Here are some tips to fight it.
- Sitting by a window to get sunlight
- Brighten your home
Also, come up with your own individualized plan, as everyone is different.
If you feel like you need help, reach out to your doctor or therapist.