How Daylight Saving Time is Linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder

A psychologist explains how daylight saving time is linked to seasonal affective disorder and offers advice for those experiencing symptoms.

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CLEVELAND – As we get ready to turn back the clock for Daylight Saving Time, more people may start to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

“Seasonal affective disorder is often caused by changes in our circadian rhythm, that internal natural clock that runs our sleep, our mood and our appetite,” explained Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic. “When there is a shift in the season and our access to daylight, our bodies struggle to adjust to the new light and time frame.”

Dr. Albers said symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can include feeling depressed, acting withdrawn, lacking motivation, struggling to concentrate and also changes in sleeping and eating habits.

She said since there is less sun exposure during the winter months, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. This can come from food, supplements or even light therapy lamps.

Exercising, eating healthy and developing a daily routine can also be helpful.

“Staying true to a routine is key to dealing with seasonal affective disorder. Going to sleep at the same time each night, getting up at the same time each morning, our bodies love consistency and routine,” she said.

Dr. Albers said if your symptoms don’t seem to be improving, be sure to reach out to your physician or a mental health professional for support.

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