Once temperatures start to drop and the days become shorter, the winter blues start to kick in for a lot of us. For 5% of Americans, these "winter blues" are diagnosed properly as seasonal affective disorder. Health experts are warning that those who struggle with seasonal depression could feel its affects a lot more this year.

Seasonal affective disorder is, "the type of depression characterized by the changing of seasons and is linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain brought on by less sunlight, most commonly beginning in fall and lasting through the winter." It is also more common among women, young adults and those who live further from the equator, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Seasonal affective disorder shares many of the same symptoms of depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest in activities that one previously enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Changes in sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • In more severe cases, thoughts of suicide

Normally, doctors would suggest making plans to see friends and family on a more frequent basis and encourage increased social interaction. In the middle of a pandemic though, that's exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do!

2020 has already brought on huge increase in mental health issues because of the pandemic. "The concern is that feeling of isolation potentially heightening during the winter months," Dr. Adam Borland, a clinical psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic told USA Today. With the winter months quickly approaching there will be less opportunity for activity and socialization - which is really what has been keeping most sane during these past 7 months.

If you experience serve symptoms of depression of suicidal thoughts, please reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).