Is it pandemic fatigue, winter blues, or Seasonal affective disorder?

Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator / Ohio AgrAbility Coordinator

It’s wintertime. The temperatures are cold, the days are short, and the nights are long. You have work to do, but you just don’t feel like doing it. The good news is that the shortest day of the year is behind us, and we are getting a few minutes more daylight every day. If you have been feeling down and unmotivated for a few weeks or months, it could be the 2020/winter blues, or it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. SAD can cause you to feel depressed most of the day, on most days. SAD can cause you to have lower energy, lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, or feelings of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness. SAD can also cause trouble with motivation, not sleeping, sleeping too much, trouble getting of bed or working. 

SAD is more severe than the 2020 blues, it is a real type of depression, and it can be managed and treated. Treatments include medication, light therapy, and counseling. If you have prolonged feelings of hurting yourself or others, or thoughts of suicide, please seek medical attention. Even if your symptoms are not severe, talking to a counselor can help you manage your SAD symptoms. A list of county-level Mental Health Resource Guides is available at the OSU Center for Public Health Practice.

At home SAD management techniques include yoga, tai chi, meditation, guided imagery, music or art therapy and exercise. Make your environment sunnier and brighter - open your curtains or blinds and let the light into your home. Get outside and take a walk, or sit in the sun (wear sunscreen, even winter sun can cause damage). Fortunately, SAD does not typically last into the summer, and every day we are getting a little more daylight. Don’t ignore SAD symptoms, talk to friends and family, or a mental health professional.

Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator and Ohio AgrAbility Coordinator, can be reached at (614) 292-0622 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.