Winter Blues

Winter days log 5 fewer hours of light compared to the peak of summer, so it’s no wonder that one-in-five Oregonians report symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Women, young people and people with a family history of depression are more susceptible to the emotional drain of a long dark winter.

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Experiencing low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in mood, sleeping habits, appetite, and weight

“Multnomah County’s unique climate can be a challenge for individuals with seasonal affective disorder,” says Nimisha Gokaldas,the medical director for Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services Division. “Thankfully, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and lessen the emotional impact of the change in seasons.”

Here are some easy ways to beat the blues:

  • Get regular exercise

  • Spend time outdoors

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol

  • Practice meditation

  • Try light therapy

Some might need more than daily lifestyle changes. Talking to a mental health provider and prescription antidepressants can also help people who feel sad, depressed or hopeless.

For help over the phone, call the Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center 24/7 at 503-988-4888, for:

  • Free mental health support

  • Help finding mental health providers

  • Referral to low-cost or sliding-scale agencies

  • Information about non-crisis community

For help in person, visit the Urgent Walk-in Clinic, any day 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., at 4212 SE Division St., and:

  • Receive immediate care during a mental health crisis

  • Speak to a psychiatrist or a mental health nurse practitioner

  • Get help with medication and treatment

“Taking the first step of asking for help is one of the single best things a person can do to heal,” says Leticia Sainz, crisis services manager for Multnomah County. “Mental health issues are absolutely treatable, and with time and effort, recovery is possible.”