As we moved through the 2020 holiday season, most of us knew how different things would be. There was less “hustle and bustle.” Many typically found joy and comfort in the year-end rush to make the most of the holidays, to savor the warmth of friendships, to bask in the love of our families. That is not to say that problems take the holiday season off; instead, we collectively try to focus on the people and things that matter most to us while putting off or ignoring problems. Those problems don’t go away, of course. They are usually waiting for us on the other side of the New Year.
For a significant portion of the population, the traditional holiday activities’ limitations adversely impact their lives in familiar yet unexpected ways. Familiar because they’ve dealt with them every year; unexpected because such effects usually aren’t felt until after the holidays were over.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that up to 3% of the general population suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which it defines as “a mental health condition triggered by the changing of the seasons.“ (https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/seasonal-affective-disorder).
As long summer days yield to the longer nights of fall and then winter, people with SAD begin to experience symptoms including oversleeping (hypersomnia); overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates; weight gain; and social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”). In typical years, the familiar “hustle and bustle” of the holidays can offset or temper the severity of the symptoms, at least until after the New Year when things slow down again.
This year is different. The holiday season was more subdued. There are fewer activities and festivities to distract us and excite us. The symptoms of SAD may have arrived early this year. Regardless of when SAD symptoms—or any other type of depression—occur, LCL is here to help.