Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Countering seasonal depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Image of Man with his head in his hands, sitting in front of a Christmas tree. The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for many people. (Photo by Army Lt. Col. Keith Hickox, Joint Forces Headquarters, Pennsylvania National Guard.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Psychological Fitness | | Depression | Suicide Prevention

The recent winter holidays are traditionally seen as a time of celebration and gathering with friends and family.

However, many people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may already feel that December and the New Year is a time of depression and worry. As we look to 2021 still facing travel restrictions, social distancing, the possibility of sickness from COVID-19, and now uncertainty about a vaccine – those who suffer from SAD are apt to have an even more difficult time over these winter months."

SAD, or sometimes called seasonal depression, is a subtype of a major depressive disorder. According to a National Institutes of Health, symptoms of SAD are varied, and may include feeling depressed most of the day, changes in weight or appetite, feeling sluggish or agitated, social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”), oversleeping, feeling hopeless, and having difficulty concentrating.

Those suffering from SAD might find themselves extra stressed and worried about family members, travel, and finances, which can contribute to feelings of depression.

If the pandemic— coupled with SAD— have you feeling out of control, you’re not alone. The pandemic has made many people feel as if they are out of control. “Recognizing our lack of control can be an important first step in coping,” explained Army Capt. (Dr.) Jacob Eliason, a psychiatry resident at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Eliason encourages helpful lifestyle changes to help mitigate these symptoms. These include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting 8 hours of rest per night.

Sometimes, however, patients who experience more disruptive mood symptoms may benefit from therapy or antidepressants. “Vitamin D supplements are [also] occasionally used to treat seasonal depression,” Eliason continued.

He also suggested sunlight therapy on sunny days, “Both are typically inexpensive and low-risk treatments but should be undertaken on an individual basis under the guidance of a [healthcare] provider.”

Another way to combat seasonal depression is partaking in fun social activities. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and new social distancing guidelines throughout the country, this may be more difficult. The CDC has counseled people to maintain social distancing when possible, and to wear masks when distancing isn’t possible. Our loved ones may have medical concerns or issues we aren’t aware about, so their preference toward social distancing and mask wearing should be respected.

“In this time of year, when many of us spend time with people outside of our normal social sphere, it is important to have respectful and proactive communication with friends and family members about pandemic precautions,” said Eliason. “In fact, it is often easiest to set ground rules before social gatherings by contacting the host and letting them know what adjustments you are willing to make regarding mask wearing, food preparation, and seating arrangements.

For some people, it might mean being a little creative this season,” Eliason added.

Seasonal Depression and COVID-19 don’t have to stop us from enjoying family and friends during the pandemic. Even if we can’t be physically near, showing love and compassion to those closest to our hearts is important.  “Be willing to listen to [family and friends] if you sense they are struggling with their mental health,” said Eliason, adding that, “If low mood or anxiety continue to be disruptive, people should not hesitate to get in touch with a medical or behavioral health provider.”

You also may be interested in...

Suicide Prevention Draws Awareness at Madigan

Article Around MHS
9/27/2022
Command Sgt. Maj. Albert Harris speaking at Madigan Army Medical Center

The numbers shock and offend the senses – roughly one active duty service member ends their life each day; add in Reserve and National Guard components and the number rises to an average of 1.5 per day. Madigan Army Medical Center’s Department of Behavioral Health hosted a National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month event on September 22, to raise awareness among the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., community and honor those who have passed.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Suicide Prevention | Psychological Fitness

Suicide Prevention: A Message from Lt. Gen. Place

Video
9/23/2022
Suicide Prevention: A Message from Lt. Gen. Place

The Director of the Defense Health Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, gives a message on Suicide Prevention. Service members’ lives are different from the lives of civilians. Relocations, deployments, time away from family, and stressful experiences related to combat can increase suicide risk. Suicide prevention remains a top priority for the DOD and the Military Health System. All Military Health System providers are trained to identify suicide warning signs. We’ve developed evidence-based tools for suicide risk assessment and care across every single military hospital and clinic. And if help is needed, we’re committed to ensuring our patients get the health care they've earned. Working together we can all help reduce the risk and prevent suicides.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Mental Health is Health Care

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Article Around MHS
9/22/2022
Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. his year’s theme is “Be The One To Stop Suicide Before It Starts.” The month is set aside each year to bring heightened awareness to suicide prevention.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

H2F Making a Difference, Tackling the Whole Approach to Care

Article Around MHS
9/15/2022
Military personnel with H2F emblem

Suicide Prevention Month officially kicked off with a suicide survivor panel at the Fort Bragg Soldier and Family Readiness Group Center

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Nutritional Fitness | Suicide Prevention | Spiritual Fitness | Sleep | Mental Health is Health Care

Suicide Prevention Month

Article Around MHS
9/14/2022
Infographic for #BeThere campaign

September is Suicide Prevention Month. No one fights the battle alone. Make it your mission to #BeThere for each other.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Suicide Prevention | Mental Health is Health Care

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Expands Opportunities to Help

Article Around MHS
9/9/2022
Infographic for Military Crisis Lifeline

The nationwide kickoff of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, operated 24/7, provides a new tool that expands the opportunities for professional counseling.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Psychological Fitness | Mental Health is Health Care

#BeThere_Marine Mark Wahlberg & Will Ferrell

Article Around MHS
9/7/2022
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell

PSA video with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell bringing attention to suicide prevention and promoting the DSTRESS Line and Community Counseling Centers.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Health Center of Excellence | Psychological Fitness | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Mental Health is Health Care

#BeThere - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Article Around MHS
9/7/2022
#BeThere infographic for Suicide Awareness Month

Suicide rates among military members continue to increase year after year.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Psychological Fitness | Mental Health is Health Care

Suicide Awareness Month Reminder: Seek Help for PTSD

Article
9/2/2022
Graphic of warfighters on patrol with the caption Not All Wounds are Visible .PTSD Awareness

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a real mental health issue. Be aware and seek help.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Suicide Prevention | Psychological Fitness | In the Spotlight

Mental Health Office Helps AUAB Members Maintain Readiness

Article Around MHS
8/30/2022
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Leonardo smiles for photo

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is comprised of physical, social, spiritual and mental fitness. Being physically fit to fight and maintaining a war fighter spirit are crucial to completing the mission.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Spiritual Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Depression | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Anxiety | Stress | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Mental Health is Health Care

Suicide Prevention: A Message from CSM Gragg

Video
8/25/2022
Suicide Prevention: A Message from CSM Gragg

A message from CSM Michael A. Gragg regarding suicide prevention and how to get help.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Depression | Suicide Prevention | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE

Suicide Prevention: One Mother's Story

Video
8/25/2022
Suicide Prevention: One Mother's Story

Virginia Cooper's son, Joshua Jaymes Wood, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was 30 years old when he took his life on November 7, 2021. This is her story.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention | Depression

Consolidated Department of Defense Coronavirus Disease 2019 Force Health Protection Guidance

Policy

Consolidates and updates the Department’s guidance regarding vaccination verification, vaccination status, COVID-19 testing, surveillance and screening testing, personnel protection on-site mask requirements, (e.g., DHA military medical treatment facilities, meetings, travel), and the protection of personally identifiable information.

Seek Mental Health with TRICARE

Video
8/18/2022
Seek Mental Health with TRICARE

Mental health problems can affect your thoughts, mood and behavior. Watch TRICARE's latest video on how to take care of your mental health.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Psychological Fitness

COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine

Publication
8/17/2022

Moderna and mRNA vaccines are available. Moderna includes two doses, 28 days apart.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 40
Refine your search
Last Updated: February 28, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.