ANCHORAGE, Alaska This is the time of year for holiday happenings and festive gatherings, but for some, it can also bring on or worsen stress, anxiety and depression. Living in Alaska and with daylight limited during the winter months, it serves as a reminder to manage your mental health too.
Channel 2’s Ariane Aramburo spoke with Director of Counseling at UAA, Susan Whitefeather about what you can do to combat a term she says is used a lot, winter sad or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Whitefeather added there’s not a lot of research as to what exactly causes it, but Alaskans are on the high end 12.5% as compared to those in Florida, 1% that get it.
The amount of light we get is a culprit, so she said using things like a happy light or taking vitamin D can help give a boost. Eating healthy and overall good health maintenance all play a crucial role in maintaining your mental health.
“Ask for help if you just are having a really hard time and struggle with it because there are things people can do, but we don’t just naturally know what those are,” said Whitefeather.
“No one is immune to it and even if it’s not significant at a clinical level, you know a lot of folks experience symptoms and so just really sort of making a plan and prioritizing things that allow you to stay functional in the wintertime is important for all of us,” added Andrew Richie, doctoral student at UAA.
It’s also important to recognize the difference between holiday blues, which are temporary feelings of anxiety or depression that can be associated with added stress as opposed to being clinically diagnosed.