Srinagar, Jan 13: Beyond the physical challenges, the harshest period of Chillai Kalan has posed significant mental health challenges for the people of Kashmir.
In this gloomy weather and limited daylight hours , Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects most of the people in Kashmir with symptoms ranging from low energy, sadness, depression, feeling of lethargy, low mood, sleep disturbance, increased appetite (carbohydrate craving), fatigue, decrease in social and occupational functioning.
SAD is a type of depression that typically comes in the fall and winter months. It leads to mood changes and other symptoms of depression.
Dr Yasir Hassan, Professor at IMHANS told Greater Kashmir that the lack of essential facilities including reliable electricity, recreational options, prolonged time spent indoors, often in dimly lit environments, contribute to decreased social interaction, leading to feelings of lethargy and reduced productivity.
"Seasons have as much of an influence on mental stability as situational stressors. We are receiving a large number of patients with symptoms of depression, sadness and other mood disorders during this season," he said.
Doctors at IMHANS said that strategies such as light therapy, outdoor activities, and maintaining social connections can be essential for managing SAD in Kashmir.
"Mental health awareness and support play crucial roles in helping individuals cope with the seasonal challenges," he said.
Dr Arshid Hussain, Professor at IMHANS told Greater Kashmir that hospitals and clinics are reporting an influx of patients seeking support for SAD-related symptoms such as low energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and disrupted sleep patterns.
"Winter is challenging for the people. But doctors are working diligently to address the demand for counselling services, while also highlighting the importance of preventive measures and self-care during the winter season,"he said.
Dr Arshad Hussain, who has been Principal investigator in ICMR funded project on seasonal mood disorders told Greater Kashmir that the changes in mood with seasons is a very common phenomenon and is part of human evolution.
"The main cause of depression in fall is reduced light hours and not temperature , as the darkness and sleep serve important restorative functions in brain so does the day light , lack of day light stretches the neuronal functioning and dynamics and in the predisposed leads to Seasonal Fall ( autumn) depression which left untreated generally can stretch well into spring," he said.
Dr Arshid said,"You can help yourself from seasonal mood variations by spending lot of time outside , exposing yourself to sunlight at least 30 minutes daily when sun is out and around 2 hours in cloudy days, proper sleep schedule, exercise, keeping busy yourself can help in prevention of seasonal blues."