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Feeling like seasonal affective disorder is worse this year? Here's how to kick it

Keep in mind, this year is the first in a few where we've been back in our normal routines.

CLEVELAND — Have you found yourself feeling sluggish and just a bit overwhelmed since the time change in November? With less daily light and more on our plate nowadays, it's easy to feel that way. That all adds up to what's called seasonal affective disorder.

"There is no doubt, two years into the pandemic -- with things still not settled, with people still having uncertainly about their risks, with right now having a surge and on the horizon yet another variant -- that long slaw creates fatigue that is absolutely fundamentally contributing to some amount of people experiencing depression at this time of year," Dr. Patrick Runnels, Vice Chair of Psychiatry at University Hospitals, said.

Runnels adds to keep in mind this year is the first in a few where we've been back in our normal routines. Pairing that with the unknown circumstances and less light can be the perfect storm.

He recommends the following things to feel better.

  • Be reflective: Remember we're still in a better place than last year, and that better times are to come
  • Be proactive: While being physically active can also help kick SAD, just keeping up with things you love is also a great way to stay positive

"Lets be very clear: Any way you can exercise for 20 minutes a day -- and it doesn't have to be vigorous; it just has to get your heart rate up a little -- has clear positive impact in your emotions, your mood, and your energy," he explained. "That said, being proactive about making sure your day is filled, or at least your schedule is oriented around activities that bring you joy and people that bring you joy, is key."

For help dealing with SAD, or any other mental health issue, you can contact the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County here.

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