Depression Happens In the Northland Around This Time Of the Year

The economic burden of depression, including workplace costs, direct costs and suicide- related costs, was estimated to be $210.5 billion in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

DULUTH, Minn. – There can be dark days living in Duluth and being so far away from the equator means not enough sunlight, which can affect how you feel.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is where people typically get more depressed during certain seasons.

“There is a variation of that where some people have a different kind of depression in the spring, but much more common in the fall and winter seasons,” said Dr. Carolyn Phelps of the Human Development Center.

A person can start to feel fatigue and simple tasks become challenging.

“Your alarm might go off, you have a lot of difficulty getting out of bed and even once you’re out of bed, just feeling groggy,” said Dr. Phelps.

Kandi Geary is a woman with many titles. She’s a lifelong Duluthian and a retired teacher who suffered from SAD.

“It’s really the light. I don’t mind the cold, the wind has been a bit much, but the cold, I love the snow, but the darkness, the shorter days, they’re a heaviness too,”said Geary.

Geary had SAD before she had full blown depression.

“It’s not like you’re perpetually sad,” said Geary. It’s like you’re in a vac of darkness.”

There are a few things you can do for treatment like increasing your sun exposure and light therapy is another option.

“Exercise, exercise, exercise. That will increase your energy level and sense of well–being, so it’s a good little free type of natural medicine,” said Dr. Phelps.

Experts say stereotypes of people with mood disorders aren’t true.

“I think one of the misconceptions when it comes to any mental health condition is that it’s not treatable or that someone is “crazy” and that we should be fearful of people with mental health problems,” said Dr. Phelps.

Depression is one of the most common mood disorders. Difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and feelings of guilt and hopelessness are signs.

“The more we talk about depression the fewer stigmas there are to it,” said Geary.

In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one depressive episode in the past year.

“There’s major depressive disorder,” said Essentia Health Psychologist Dr. Nicole Fleming. “Some people can have what we call an episode of depression. Some people might have their very first episode and we call that a single episode of depression.”

Not seeking help could cause serious consequences.

“The symptoms can lead to more problems than with perhaps missing work, missing school, socially isolating themselves and then can lead to thoughts of wanting to commit suicide,” said Dr. Fleming.

For anyone coping with depression treatment can include medication.

“Another resource would be of course them meeting with a psychologist to identify if there’s any specific situations or triggers that could be causing the depression,” said Dr. Fleming.

Geary says she doesn’t feel alone with depression as she once did because of her support system including her family and Dr. Fleming.

She use to be an avid runner and getting back to that is a goal she is running toward.

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