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COVID-19 : The January slope is also for mental health

Traditionally January, after the Christmas holidays, has been characterized as a complex month for millions of households. The fact of coming from a few weeks with abundant spending and the return to activity means that many face it with not a few difficulties at various levels. And if we add to the equation the fact that we are still in the middle of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the outlook is bleak.

But also, given the circumstance there is other conditions that can affect mental health. The cold and the few hours of light, among other factors, accentuate in many people the feeling of melancholy and sadness. In fact, according to data from the Spanish Society of Psychiatry (SEP) most adults, at least 90%, experience subtle changes in mood, energy and sleep when the season changes.

At the beginning of the year, especially in January and February, the number of depressions and cases of anxiety, dejection or insomnia tend to increase.. Sunlight is key to our mood and the least exposure to it can cause changes in the body’s natural rhythms in many people. The longer the period of light, the greater the feeling of general well-being and we have more energy, we feel more active and happy ”, explains Dr. Sergio Arques, a psychiatrist from Vithas Castellón.

“This added to the adaptation to the routine after a Christmas with so many restrictions in meetings with loved ones and the situation of the global pandemic that is taking time to subside,” implies that some people may feel a state of sadness and anguish what if it is prolonged in time, it would lead not only to depression or insomnia problems but also other ailments such as digestive or dermatological conditions ”, adds the specialist.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter depression

Some people may even suffer seasonal affective disorder (SAD), What is it a type of depression that can be very disabling, as it prevents the person from performing their tasks normally. It is also known as winter depression because it adjusts to this seasonal pattern. “It usually begins in the fall and disappears in the spring and is triggered by the brain’s response to decreased exposure to natural light. Although the most common form of SAD occurs in the winter, it is true that some people experience symptoms during the spring and summer, and it can affect children and adolescents.

In the APR, it also plays an important role the production of melatonin and serotonin of the brain. “During winter,” explains Dr. Arques, “the body produces more melatonin that stimulates sleep and less serotonin, which is what fights depression.”

How to face the new year

“We must bear in mind that each of us must consider what we really want and desire, being essential to set specific objectives in the short and medium term” “Of course, without forgetting the importance of defining in the long term how we would like to organize our lifetime”. “It is not about ‘typical’ socially marked objectives such as losing weight, quitting smoking or going to the gym, but what we really consider individually” “It is about facing the start of the new year with an optimistic spirit.” “January is a good time to focus on your plans and focus on the action of carrying them out. So we must fill our minds with projects, because no matter how small they are, they will fill us with motivation ”. In addition, healthy habits are very important: avoid sedentary lifestyle practicing some exercise, a Mediterranean diet, trying to sleep the necessary hours, etc … ”.