Mental health experts in the low countries talk about seasonal depression

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – About 5% of adults experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or seasonal depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association, and a Lowcountry mental health facility is working to make sure people get the service they need.

Melissa Camp is the Director of Clinical Operations at Live Oak Mental Health and Wellness. Their inpatient and outpatient services help people with a variety of mental health challenges.

One of the things we notice is that the change in weather and seasons has an effect on some people where it can make their energy levels lower, because the day is darker and it’s colder and there’s more inside, Camp said.

He explained that anyone, even someone who is generally mentally healthy can suffer from periodic depression for a variety of reasons.

It’s weird because we think of the holidays and we think of happiness and family and fun and for a lot of people that’s true, but there’s a significant number of people who experience more depression this time of year and it’s totally okay it happens but it’s hard for people to understand sometimes, says Camp.

With less sunlight, people may lack vitamin D, their internal sleep cycle may change and their appetite may also be affected. All of this can lead to seasonal depression.

said Dr. Valerie Scott, a Roper Primary Care Physician, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

We know in primary care that mental health plays a big role in almost everyone’s life. It can affect your management of your chronic disease, or it can be your only major problem, says Scott.

Scott and Camp agree that while people may feel that seasonal depression is not as big a deal as other mental struggles, it is very important to address.

It’s a form of depression, and it’s a real disease. It’s not just because it’s cold outside. It’s in the category of a depression, but it only happens a few months a year, Scott said.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or seasonal depression can affect people up to 40% of the year. Camp says that any noticeable changes in your mental health are worth talking to your doctor about.

They’re right in seasonal depression that’s probably less severe than some of our major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder types of symptoms, but it’s still real, right? It’s still hard, Camp said. And so I think more than anything else, recognizing that this is a real thing that you may need additional support, whether that’s therapy or medication, or whatever that looks like for you, but really practice self-care.

Symptoms include less energy than normal, loss of appetite and feeling alone. The camp says self-care means things like getting enough sleep, eating enough nutrients and dealing with stressors like alcohol during moderate times of the year.

The camp says self-care means things like getting enough sleep, eating enough nutrients and dealing with stressors like alcohol during moderate times of the year. Scott said season depression can be officially diagnosed after two years of recurring issues. But fortunately, there are proven treatments.

We know that going outside, getting the sun can help especially if your symptoms are minor, but there are many studies that show the use of light boxes, they give you 10,000 Lux of light and that can really change the situation, says Scott. This must be done in consultation with the physician. We also know that antidepressants like Prozac have been fully studied for this condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be just as effective as the other therapies I have discussed in treating this condition.

Experts say it all starts with talking to your doctor. If you need more immediate questions answered, the Tridents Live Oak Mental Health and Wellness facility is available 24/7 at 843-797-4200.

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