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PMC Addresses Seasonal Depression and Covid-19

As healthcare workers, it is our job to heal injury and illness. That’s what unites us... the all-encompassing fight against disease and damage. We are patient advocates and we believe it is our job to advocate for your overall wellness: mental, physical, and emotional. Our patients aren’t just those who receive our services or schedule their appointments with us. Our patients are the ones filling the community we live in and love, our friends, neighbors, and family.

Each and every one of our patients has been affected by the COVID pandemic in one way or another, on top of daily struggles and full plates. We are also approaching what is predicted to be a snowy and cold winter. No matter how many winters we live through, we are still vulnerable to the effects of less sunlight, the time change, cold temperatures flaring up old injuries, feeling down, and feeling even more isolated. We feel deeply for the families with loved ones in a nursing home or the residents yearning to hug their parents or grandparents. We want that for all of you; and it’s the driving force behind our efforts every single day. We feel deeply for the ball teams without crowds, the theatres without patrons, and the huggers without hugs.

We would like to address season depression. Seasonal depression hits Montana every year; and it hits hard. For all age groups, Montana has ranked in the top five for suicide rates in the nation, for the past thirty years. In a report for 2016 in the National Vital Statistics Report, Montana has the second-highest rate of suicide in the nation. Although the past decade has brought more awareness and intervention to our state, we still lose far too many Montanans every year. How will seasonal depression look during a pandemic that’s been extremely isolating for some? We don’t really know. These times are like nothing we’ve ever seen so we have little history to predict the near future. But the pandemic will most likely accentuate some of the conditions that facilitate seasonal affective disorder. There will also be fewer opportunities to get outdoors or go out and about for events and occasions.

It’s not always easy to identify the feelings that may come from seasonal depression like hopelessness, helplessness, irritability, and confinement. But if you know you are prone to seasonal depression; or have experienced some of these feelings during the pandemic, you may be at risk for increased SAD feelings with the winter approaching fast. Some recommendations to take an early approach to seasonal depression are to:

  • Maintain a routine of physical activity and get plenty of nutrients. Fruit and veggies will be helpful to fight off other infectious diseases and also help you feel full and give you natural vitamins. Regular exercise will help maintain a healthy weight and release natural endorphins. 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week is free rehabilitation!

  • Stay connected to things and people who boost your mood. This is a trying time for social connection but we do encourage the use of safe interaction with friends and family, and picking up the telephone to call a loved one or friend. Hobbies and checklists are also great mood boosters.

  • Consider buying a therapy light. Therapy lights emit the sunlight that Montana winters deprive us of, and just 30 minutes per day can increase your mood tremendously.

  • We really encourage seeking help. Do not feel uncertain or ashamed to get a little extra help during this time. We have a great team of mental health professionals in Pondera County; and we have a team of providers ready to help you with the right combination for you whether it be online resources, counseling, medication, or a combination of any of these things. We are here to serve the good people of Pondera County and we WANT to help you through this.

The number one thing PMC wants our community to know is that you do matter, you are justified to feel down, there is hope, and you do not have to fight alone.

Across our county, state, and nation, we have been asked to be patient, trust the process, and cooperate in mitigating the risks and reducing the spread of COVID-19. We all have an important responsibility at this time and sometimes it can feel overwhelming and hopeless. We get it. But the people we serve are the people who motivate us every day not to give up this fight. We will never stop giving you what you deserve, our best. The community support has helped us through many trying months and now it’s our turn to help you. Give your healthcare provider a call and let us show you that we mean it when we say we are in this together, until the bitter end.

We are thinking of you all this Holiday season and beyond.

All our best,

Your friends & neighbors at Pondera Medical Center

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