Fresno County health leaders share ways to beat the winter blues

Fresno, CA (KFSN) – The holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, but for some, they can be filled with sadness.

“For this subset of us people who have challenges with the mood that comes with this seasonal pattern, certainly in winter or late fall we see more people asking for help,” said Susan Holt, deputy director of the Fresno County Department of State. Behavioral health.

According to Holt, seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter blues or seasonal depression, is more common than people think.

She points to various reasons for this. The days are shorter, and it gets dark faster. Vacations can also be stressful due to organizing and planning gatherings. There may be a loss of a loved one or a feeling of isolation from friends and family.

“It’s really important that you don’t compare yourself and your situation to that of others,” Holt said.

Seasonal depression looks different for people. Symptoms include low energy, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in activities you enjoyed, or feeling hopeless.

“When we add alcohol or other drugs that can compromise our judgment, that’s not the best strategy for us to deal with,” she explained.

Holt said there are ways around it.

She recommends spending time outside when the sun is out. “A little daylight can go a long way.”

If you feel lonely, spend time with others.

“Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or even volunteer in the community,” she said.

These are some coping tools, Hold said, but the department can come up with a plan to deal with anyone who struggles, and she’s encouraging those people to connect as the holiday season continues.

“There is always help available and always hope,” she said.

Here is a list of resources available 24/7 in Central California:

  • Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health Access Line: 800-654-3937
  • Central Valley Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
  • Crisis text line: text “HOME” to 741741
  • Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health Crisis Stabilization Center: 559-453-1008
  • Fresno National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 559-224-2469
  • CalHope Live Chat: 833-317-4673

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