HealthWatch: Getting the word out on seasonal depression

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:48 PM EST
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - As we all mentally prepare for a long winter ahead, the shorter, colder days may take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. Dartmouth Health is raising awareness about that in a unique way.

When it comes to health care, officials say medicine and treatment is not the only solution. At Dartmouth Health, information is also an important piece of the puzzle. “Starts in late fall and winter, ends at the emergence of spring,” said psychologist Robert Brady. Brady is talking about seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as seasonal depression. It’s a disorder that the experts say affects about one in 20 people. “There may be a role of exposure to hours of sunlight, but there is most definitely a role in the change of the things we do on a daily basis.”

Symptoms include a loss of interest in activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits, difficulty making decisions, and even suicidal thoughts. The President and CEO of Dartmouth Health highlighted the disorder live on social media “It’s about people owning their health care and people taking accountability and responsibility and the best way to do that is actually giving them information and give them the tools to actually intervene,” said. Dr. Joanne Conroy.

The regular “Connect with the CEO” segments which she hosts, touch on a variety of health care-related topics, using the health network’s social media platforms. Anyone can tune in, and during the height of the pandemic, that was a lot of eyeballs.

“When people were hungry for information, we realized how powerful the tool was to actually have a dialog with the community both live and even post-production where people could ask questions and have them answered by the experts,” Conroy said.

As for the topic on this day, treatments for seasonal depression include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, increased outdoor activities, and in some cases, light boxes. But the experts say, another important remedy is simply talking to those you care about.

“We are a community, we want to be able to check in with folks and just say how are things going and let that person know that you are available,” Brady said.

For a link to full conversation about season depression click here.