Although symptoms of SAD usually go away completely every summer, Dr. Rohan: “In summer 2020 we did not see a complete remission in our patients. With such great loads, they overwrite the seasonal pattern. “
Dr. Rohan fears the fear and stress caused by the pandemic will increase the risk and severity of winter depression for all. “It’s possible for those with subclinical SAD to go clinical,” she said. “People will have limited ability to stay healthy, even if they normally have good coping skills.”
Dr. However, Rosenthal said: “Only an understanding of the problems can give people a plan on how to deal with them more effectively.” The most helpful thing for people with SAD could be exposure to sunlight or an artificial equivalent for 20 to 30 minutes each morning. The standard amount of light required is 10,000 lux. Sitting under a commercial light box that is at least a foot square does the job. It is also helpful to use a twilight simulator in the bedroom or a light on a timer to switch on 10 or 20 minutes before you get up.
LIGHT THERAPY Wirecutter, a New York Times company, checks lightboxes here.
My late husband was helped by walking the dog for about half an hour every morning after sunrise.
“A 20-minute walk in the early morning sun is as good as commercial light therapy,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “But while the morning is best, it helps whenever you can go for a walk.” The combination of movement and outside light is crucial. It connects you with your surroundings – not just with the light, but also with the birds, trees, animal life and the neighborhood – anything can act as an antidote to the cocoon of isolation. “
Our conversation reminded me of the tactics I used during the devastating first few months of the pandemic, when my city was the epicenter of Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. I struggled to find something that was joy every day: new growth on trees in the neighborhood, blossoms emerging in people’s yards, watching my dog play with his canine friends, flirting with toddlers on the street, and after ours in the evening Essentially, it calls workers who are putting their lives at risk for the rest of us.
“Don’t push the joy out of your life,” said Dr. Rosenthal emphatically. “There has to be joy every day. It’s an upfront investment that pays off well. “He suggested taking classes online and maybe learning how to make jewelry or paint or play an instrument. Keeping in touch with people is also very important, perhaps by setting up a socially distant lunch date or having coffee or tea with a friend.