Fresno County health leaders share ways to beat the winter blues

The holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, but for some, they can be filled with sadness.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, but for some, they can be filled with sadness.

"For that subset of us folks who experience challenges related to mood that comes with that seasonal pattern, certainly in the wintertime or the late fall, we do see more folks reaching out for help," said Susan Holt, deputy director of Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health.

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

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

"It's really important to not compare yourself and your own situation to that of others," Holt said.

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

"When we add in alcohol or other drugs that can compromise our judgment, that is not the best strategy for us to cope," she explained.

Holt said there are ways to get through it.

She recommends spending time outside when the sun is out. "A little bit of daylight can go a long way."

If you're feeling lonely, spend time with others.

"Reaching out to a trusted friend or family member, or even volunteering in the community," she said.

Hold said these are a few coping tools, but the department can come up with a coping plan for anyone struggling, and she encourages those people to reach out 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 the word "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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