It is that time of year again, time to set our clocks back an hour. Time for shorter days, colder days, and for some of us, feelings of sadness. There have been years of debates that the time change should be done away with and we should stay in Daylight Savings Time. However, it literally takes an act of Congress to make that change happen. We have heard that the weeks following the time change, there are more car accidents and more heart attacks. But what effect does the time change have on our mental health?
Studies indicate that anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts can increase when the time changes. The time change itself does not increase or cause mental health problems; it just heightens them and worsens them. Our seratonin and melatonin levels can drop with the decrease in sunlight when we change the clocks back an hour. This can lead to feelings of apathy and depression, which is often better known as Seasonal Affective Depressive Disorder (SADD). We also tend to spend more time indoors with the colder weather, making for more of a sedentary lifestyle and that can increase symptoms of depression.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, moving into and out of Daylight Savings Time can disrupt sleep patterns, increase mood disorders such as depression, and increase thoughts of suicide (Published Online: October 15, 2020, https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.8780).
So what are some things that we can do to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety during the time change? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Spend more time outside during daylight hours (We need vitamin D even in the colder months!!)
2) Move your desk near a window to get sunlight during the day
3) Light Therapy
4) Keep physically active. If you're not able to exercise outside, exercise near a window to get some sunlight while you exercise.
5) Consider talking to a therapist. Contact us through our website or call 630-765-3214 to schedule an appointment.