Shifting the Clock: How Daylight Saving Time Affects Mental Health



Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) means the practice of moving our clocks forward or backward and it is a biannual ritual that many of us follow. While the concept may seem simple, its impact on mental health can be quite complex.

Some folks welcome the fall-back transition, as it aligns with the sun setting earlier. However, for others, this change can exacerbate underlying mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Tina Rezash Rogal, the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications for Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS), explains that research indicates DST itself doesn’t cause mental health problems. Instead, it can intensify symptoms in individuals already grappling with anxiety or depression.

These time changes disrupt our daily routines, sleep patterns, social engagements, and outdoor activities. Brianna Sheridan, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Regional Clinic Director for Thriveworks, emphasizes the importance of maintaining a structured routine and receiving an adequate amount of sunlight during the winter months.

Challenges Of Daylight Saving

Mental health experts suggest several strategies to combat the potential challenges associated with DST:

  1. Avoid Isolation: Isolation can amplify feelings of anxiety and depression during this time. Connecting with friends, family, or support groups is essential for maintaining good mental health.
  2. Prioritize Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, which can enhance your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  3. Morning Sunlight: Exposing yourself to natural light in the morning can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve your mood.
  4. Light Therapies: Light therapy involves using special lamps that mimic natural sunlight. It can be an effective treatment for conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

By understanding the potential impact of DST on mental health and implementing these strategies, individuals can navigate the time changes more effectively and maintain their well-being.

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