Kentucky Faces Another Risk from Natural Disasters: Seasonal Depression

Nov 2, 2022 at 10:48 am
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*This story was originally published by Public News Service.

Mental health experts say this winter may be especially difficult for people who have lost homes or loved ones in the Eastern Kentucky floods, and those who are rebuilding after last year's deadly tornadoes in the western part of the state.

Marcie Timmerman, executive director of Mental Health America of Kentucky, said the increased stress on families during the holidays and winter blues could set the stage for seasonal depression.

"We've been through pandemics, tornadoes and flooding, right? We've lost homes, we've lost things. We may have lost people we love. We lost places that we love."

The University of Kentucky reports more students seeking help for mental health issues on campus.

Timmerman noted Mental Health America has an online screening tool, which can be used at home to gauge depression risk.

She pointed out screening for depression increases the chance of getting treatment. Research shows many primary care physicians fail to recognize depression, especially in patients of color.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Timmerman explained seasonal affective disorder is often affiliated with a lack of sunlight and decreased vitamin D levels. She emphasized it is important to pay attention to warning signs, including sadness, lack of energy and oversleeping.

"If you're crying every day for say, seven to 14 days, and it's impacting your work, or your school or your everyday life, that's really an indicator that you need to get some help," Timmerman advised.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 3% of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder, but the number jumps to around 10% in parts of the country with longer winters.

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