SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – This is the time of year when mental health experts see more people in need.
The official name is Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as "SAD."
Especially during the winter months with shorter days and less sunlight, it can affect a lot of people on the Central Coast.
“It is a type of depression,” said Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Suzanne Grimmesey. “It can also present as irritability or anxiousness that typically is felt in the fall and commonly in the winter months, and can cause mood changes.”
Researchers believe about 1 in 20 people have this disorder across the country.
“People know that they are not alone,” said Suzanne Grimmesey. “So the days are colder and darker. People are feeling less energetic and have less daylight to even get out and get exercise.”
Health experts at Lompoc Valley Medical Center see it targeting the younger population.
“It does show up usually in adolescents and even younger women,” said Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s Public Health Specialist Abhishek Mehta. “On average, it’s two to nine times more common than the male.”
To cope, experts recommend talking to friends, family, or a therapist, and keeping busy.
“Maybe a number of people you could reach out to and trust,” said Mehta. “Because that could be one of the very good ways to open up.”