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As pandemic continues through winter, those with depression, SAD symptoms confront dual challenges


DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) —— As the country grapples with the virus, winter’s just around the corner, meaning those who sufferer from brain health issues including seasonal affective disorder (or “SAD”) may see those symptoms differently this winter.

New work from the Mayo Clinic suggests that some people who get the ‘gloomies’ in winter months, may actually see their symptoms reduced this year, with months of pandemic experience under their belts.

A feeling of isolation usually makes the syndrome worse. However, the COVID crisis has gotten most of us more accustomed to spending time with loved ones, while physically farther apart — which could leave those who suffer from the syndrome better off.

Britni Farber is the president of NAMI Dubuque, a grassroots, nonprofit organization that offers counseling and other mental health services. She says that depression and anxiety often accompany SAD during winter.

“Many times, when people talk about depression or anxiety, a huge symptom of that is feeling isolated, feeling very alone, like you don’t have anyone to talk to,” Farber said.

For many, COVID changed that. Over a spring and summer of staying home and isolation, many have reached out to loved ones via technology, learning brain-health battles don’t need to be fought alone.

“An interesting thing about the pandemic, and an interesting thing about COVID-19, is this underlying sense of togetherness. when, really, everybody is in this together,” Farber said. “There is not one person in the United States that is not in the pandemic.”

The silver lining for brain-health patients now — having someone to reach out to.

“Knowing that everybody is in this boat together, it almost makes it seem less overwhelming,” Farber said.

Farber says, seasonal affective disorder sufferers who thrive on routines,
many of them have had a chance to take better care of themselves with some of that downtime.

The Dubuque NAMI office has compiled local crisis assistance resources for the area—some of them are available virtually. To find those, click here.



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