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Daylight saving time ends: California clocks to change but ‘your body doesn’t work that way’

Sacramento Bee - 11/2/2023

While it can be a joyous season for some, the fall and winter time can dredge up negative feelings and fatigue.

For states like California, Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, Nov. 5, which means clocks round back one hour at 2 a.m. The extra hour can shift your body clock, disrupt sleep and “throw everything off track,” Deborah Fernandez-Turner, deputy chief psychiatric officer at CVS Health said.

This is amplified, as the later months of the year reel in darker skies and gloomy weather. The decrease in sunlight can cause issues with sleep rhythm, mood and general sadness, she said.

“Where I am in Arizona, we don’t have a Daylight Saving Time change, but we still see a lot of seasonal affective disorders and problems with insomnia at this time of year,” she said.

This seasonal depression hits about 5% of adults in the country, according to the American Psychiatric Association, and usually lasts 40% of the year.

Who is most vulnerable?

Kimberly Miller, a practicing neuropsychologist and owner of Healthy Mind Sacramento Psychological Services, told The Sacramento Bee in a 2021 story, that people who have prior depression or tendencies to have depression symptoms are likely to experience SAD.

And according to the American Psychiatric Association, it’s more common among women.

Fernandez-Turner said it can affect people of any age, gender and race, especially if they are going through a stressful time in their life.

With the holidays during this time of year, grief and family complications may arise, Shacunda Rodgers, a clinical psychologist in the Sacramento area, said in 2021.

Expectations for the season may also weigh you down.

“... Maybe things are harder for you right now, maybe you’ve had a recent loss in your family, maybe finances aren’t great, and you’re comparing yourself to this ideal,” Fernandez-Turner said. “It’s sort of a perfect storm for depressive feelings.”

The symptoms of SAD and treatments

Some symptoms include a decrease in energy and enthusiasm for things that typically brought joy in the past, Fernandez-Turner said.

Individuals may also feel a lack of motivation, difficulty sleeping and irritability.

According to the association, signs of SAD include difficulty concentrating and changes in appetite.

Fernandez-Turner recommends that people see a therapist or a professional to help sort through emotions and gain a better understanding of whether the symptoms are seasonal depression or a major depressive disorder. This way, they can get help as early as possible.

There are also ways people can self-soothe.

“... Everybody changes their clocks, but your body doesn’t work that way,” Fernandez-Turner said.

She recommends getting as much sunlight as possible or using a therapy light box to mimic sunlight indoors, exercising and gradually changing your sleep schedule.

“Remember that an hour sounds like nothing but, really, it is a big change,” she said. “So be gentle with yourself.”

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