Changing clocks and shorter days can prompt depression in some people

The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are similar to those of clinical depression, but there are ways they can be prevented.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – For many of us, there’s a lot to look forward to this time of year, like beautiful fall foliage and the upcoming holidays.  But for some people, like college senior Ashley Alaia, this time of year can be a struggle.

Alaia says, “It gets so dark so early, and I’ve already seen the change in my mood; just having trouble sleeping.  It just feels like the day is wasted.”

She’s not alone.  Dr. Brandon Gaudiano is a psychologist and clinical director of the Transitional Outpatient Program at Butler Hospital.  He says feelings of depression become more common in some people when the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.

Gaudiano says, “There are a subgroup of individuals who experience more than just the “winter blues.”  They actually experience some pretty significant depression that tends to be tied to the seasonal changes.”

Gaudiano says symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are similar to those of clinical depression, including prolonged sadness, loss of interest, appetite and sleep changes, and suicidal thoughts.  He says maintaining healthy diet, exercise, and sleep habits, plus adjusting your schedule so you see more daylight can all help.

Gaudiano says, “If you recognize that it’s causing a lot of distress, it’s causing problems with your loved ones, it’s causing problems at work and your functioning, that’s the time to kind of reach out for help.”

Alaia says she takes some steps to keep her mood from slipping this time of year.

Alaia says, “I’ve been trying to wake up a lot earlier, try to get all the daylight that I can.  Also, I know they make those SAD lamps, so I’m trying to get one of those.”

If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to your doctor or a mental health resource like NAMI.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

Categories: News, Your Health