A Danish study recently found that depression diagnoses go up significantly (8 percent) in the month following the change from Daylight Savings Time back to standard time.
With the time change scheduled to happen this Sunday, let’s be on the lookout for signs of depression. Better yet, let’s be proactive in fighting it back.
The Danish researchers suggest the increase is tied to the loss of sunshine in the time when we really notice: The few hours at the end of the day, right when we’re getting off work and hoping to enjoy some free time. It also marks the coming of a long string of dark, cold days (especially in Denmark).
The article announcing the study begins with this disheartening quote by not-helpful Danish poet Henrik Nordbrant:
The year has 16 months: November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, November, November, November.
I’d like to counter with this verse by poet Alexander L. Fraser:
Fear not November’s challenge bold—
We’ve books and friends,
And hearths that never can grow cold:
These make amends!
So here’s what you can do: Dust off your favorite books, call your friends, light your fire. In other words, make plans! Do things you love. Go out and serve others (I recommend this website for finding opportunities). Take an ice skating or art class. Bundle up and go for a walk in the sunshine when you can.
If you’re feeling depressed, there are many things you can do. Medication and therapy can be a big part of that. With work and help, November can turn out to be a good month after all.
Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.