Skip to main content

Military Health System

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...

5 Consejos Para Estar Listo Para la Misión Infographic

Publication
6/23/2021

Follow these five tips to stay mission ready and mentally fit whether at home or abroad.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Military Health Resources Infographic

Publication
6/23/2021

Learn the different ways to seek care and take the first step. Managing the stress of military life can affect the toughest warrior. Find the resource to best fit your needs.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine at Civilian Pharmacies

Publication
3/9/2021

YOU CAN GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE FROM ANY CIVILIAN PHARMACY AT NO CHARGE, EVEN NON-NETWORK PHARMACIES, BUT HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Access to COVID-19 Vaccine for Members of the Selected Reserve (SELRES)

Publication
3/2/2021

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Printable VAX Fact Can I Get COVID-19 From the Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact When can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact How Many Doses of the Vaccine Will I Get?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact How Much will the COVID-19 Vaccine Cost?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact Who Can Get the Vaccine Now?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact Will TRICARE Cover the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact Do I Still Need to Wear a Facemask After I'm Vaccinated?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact Where can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Printable VAX Fact Should Children Get the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

These messages are provided for you to use on your platforms with any of the images from the COVID-19 Toolkit.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

DoD COVID 19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and Population Schema

Publication
12/10/2020

Regarding the initial COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Defense Department officials announced a phased and coordinated strategic plan for distributing and administering the initial COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 4
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 27, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery