There are few things the Northeast does as well as fall. But this season can be difficult for some, as shorter days and colder temperatures can bring feelings of depression and isolation, while also exacerbating existing mental health concerns for some people.
Dr. Michelle DiBlasi is the Chief of Inpatient Psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center. She participatesShared to share some tips on how to strengthen your mental health as we enter the colder months.
Tips & tricks
Watch for warning signs of seasonal depression:
Dr. Michelle DiBlasi: “Biggest [warning signs] are starting to feel more rundown, more lethargic, may oversleep, overeat or eat less and even have changes in personality, such as feeling more irritable and anxious, and having difficulty concentrating. Those are the big things you want to pay attention to.”
Make a conscious effort to stay connected with friends and family, especially if you’re new to the area and unfamiliar with New England winters:
DiBlasi: “My best advice for people is to really try to stay socially connected, especially if you’re new to the area, keep in touch with old friends and family, then maybe start making new friends in the area. Really make a conscious effort to stay socially connected.”
“I think in the winter it’s easy to feel isolated, which can make you feel more depressed. So staying connected is very important.”
Stick to daily habits and healthy living standards:
DiBlasi: “I think the most important thing really comes down to the basics, which people really often don’t pay much attention to. Good sleep hygiene, which basically means making sure you’re relaxed before bed and sleep well at night.” . And then eating healthy, because a lot of times we forget the basics that really have a big impact on our mood.”
“And then of course do things that help you relax, like I said, whether that’s exercising, meditating, listening to music, listening to a radio show whatever makes you feel good.”
Seek help if you feel hopeless:
DiBlasi: “I think the time to seek help is when you feel like you can’t get out of that anxiety. You feel depressed, you start to feel hopeless. You can really just seem can’t escape it Certainly, if you are thinking about ending your life, you should definitely reach out for help immediately. There are many resources available from the emergency department, as well as the National Suicide Hotline, 988, that people can call for immediate help, especially in a crisis.”
Using lamps to combat seasonal affective disorder:
DiBlasi: “For seasonal affective disorder, they have lights. They’re called light boxes that you can actually buy online or in stores. It basically gives you LED lights, usually about 30 minutes a day.”
“I recommend using it in the morning as soon as you wake up. Basically, its effect is to reset your circadian rhythm i.e. your body’s 24-hour clock to give you more energy more and help you. [combat depression].”
Resources: If you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts or is experiencing another mental health crisis, you can contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 988 by phone call phone or text message. You can also connect to the call center by calling Massachusetts 211.
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