Can the End of Daylight Savings Time Affect Mood?

By Dr. Penelope Chavez-Frigon

We have all heard the saying, Fall Back and Spring Forward to remember how to change our clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  Does changing the clocks have any effect on mood?  When we change the clocks in the fall (fall back) we get an extra hour of sleep for one Sunday, but night time seems to come very early the next evening.  Although it may not appear to be too dark in the mornings anymore, it starts getting dark as early as 6pm.  What does that do for our mood, if anything?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now labeled in DSM-5 as Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern.  This means that for some people who do not display any significant symptoms of depression during the majority of the year, the winter months bring symptoms of depression including increase fatigue, lack of motivation, feeling of worthlessness, feelings of hopelessness, increased problems in attention and concentration.  Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan (2014) found the prevalence rate for SAD to range from 1.4% in Florida to 9.9% in Alaska.   The closer a location is to the equator, the more sunlight it will have through the winter months. 

Sunlight is important for mood because it can affect the production of serotonin and/or the way that the brain uses serotonin.  Appropriate serotonin levels are important for a healthy, happier mood.  Lower serotonin levels are associated with an increase in depression.  What can someone do if they find they are experiencing a lower mood during winter months?  A few ways to naturally increase serotonin include 1) increase physical activity, 2) reduce sugary snacks and foods high in carbohydrates, and 3) get some sunlight when possible.  Remember to consult your physician before engaging any strenuous activity and use proper sunscreen when out in the sun. 

If you finding yourself experiencing a significant increase in depressive symptoms, please consult your primary care provider to determine if mental health treatment is indicated. 

Tips to Help You Get Through the Winter Months

By Sam Golden, LPC, MFT

This time of year can be stressful for everyone.  Whether it is searching for the perfect gift, or planning a family gathering in your home, the sources of stress can feel endless and overwhelming.  Since the things that stress you out cannot be always be avoided, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with the pressure of the holiday season.


1.      Breathe

·         I know this seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people forget to do it when they find themselves wrapped up in trying to get everything done. Take a moment for yourself and breathe deeply with your diaphragm.

·         The general rule of thumb for deep breathing is to exhale twice as long as you inhale. There are several apps to help you with, including Breathe2Relax and Pranayama

2.      Practice Mindfulness

·         Mindfulness is a practice that combines deep breathing while focusing on your senses. Try stopping by the candle store in the mall and taking a moment to smell the candles, while focusing on your breathing.

·         You can also practice Mindfulness in the car while you’re driving. Take slow, deep, breaths and focus on how the wheel feels underneath your fingers. If thoughts pass through your mind, acknowledge them like an item on a conveyor belt, and let it pass through your mind.

3.      Set small, realistic goals for yourself

·         Try doing something small each day to make your list a little less overwhelming. For example: buy or brainstorm a gift for someone each day or put up decorations a little bit at a time.

4.      You don’t have to be perfect

·         We sometimes put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best, or to be perfect for the holidays. This can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.

·         This ties into the last tip as well. Make reasonable goals, and know that it’s okay to not get the perfect gift, or have the perfect house.

5.      Ask for Help!

·         The holidays are a time of giving, so don’t be afraid to ask someone to GIVE you some help! You don’t have to do everything yourself.

6.      Breathe

·         Yes, I will say this again, because it’s so important. The holidays can be stressful and family members can be unpredictable. Just remember to take a moment every once in a while and take slow, deep breaths.

7.      This too shall pass


Stress Reduction Tips from Crystal

1) Walk away for 20 minutes from your stress. Sometimes stress is addictive and we get sucked into hanging out with it, thinking we will resolve it. However, taking a 20 minute break from thinking or working on the issue can bring new perspective and calm.

2) Try to look at things from a different point of view.  In counseling, the term is reframing. I always ask myself this question:

"What can I gain from this situation that is positive?"

For example, I have a pressing bill due and the money isn't here. I won't make enough to pay it, so I worry about it, trying to find ways to make it work. I look at the facts: I can only pay $10 on this bill, but they want it paid in full. After praying and doing all I can, I give up the worry. I look at the positive. I learn patience, I learn how to budget, I learn wisdom as I learn better ways to save my money. It isn't easy, but it helps me worry less.

3) Talk with a friend, parent, counselor, or colleague. Talking about an issue that causes worry can help put things into perspective. This helps to avoid what we call catastrophizing.

4) Schedule a worry time. Remind yourself you have 20 min of worry time every day at the same time. This helps you not worry the whole day until this time, where you get out your list and you worry about it for 20 min. We eventually try to get the worry time down to smaller amounts of time.

5) Breath in.Breath out.ig belly breaths. 5 times. Now, let your shoulders fall in relaxation. Do this when you are not anxious or worried and it gets easier to do when you are stressed. When you are stressed, you don't get enough oxygen because breathing shallows. Purposely breathing deeply in and out replenishes your supply so you can think more clearly.

6) Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in the brain that make you feel happy. It is similar to drugs such as morphine.

7) Meditate. Use your own scripts, ones you find online, or in the Bible. These scripts can be recorded and played back with relaxing music. I depend on this daily. It is my go-to plan for calming myself down and it works. Here are some scripts:

A Brief History of Psychotherapy

Adapted from History of Psychotherapy, by Jim Haggerty, M.D.

According to Jim Haggerty, people have been telling their problems to someone for centuries. It didn't always look the way it does now. Treatment for emotional problems can be traced to antiquity. The ancient Greeks were the first to put a label on "mental illness" as a medical condition rather than a sign of an evil spirits. They originally thought that hysteria only affected women due to a wondering uterus. Their treatment for mental illness was quite peculiar. Bathing was used for depression and blood-letting for psychosis. They did not recognize the treatment value of encouraging support and consoling words.

During the Middle Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, people attributed mental illness to supernatural causes. They used torture to gain confessions of demonic possessions. During the sixteeth century, the time of Paracelsus, a form of psychotherapy emerged as a treatment of the insane.

Walter Cooper Dendy introduced the term"psycho-therapeia" in 1853. Around the turn of the century, Sigmund Freud developed psychoanalysis and made  profound contributions in with his studies of infantile sexuality, use of dreams, description of the unconscious, and his model of the human mind.

Freud believed that mental illness was caused by keeping memories or thoughts in the unconscious. He believed treatment succeeded by listening to the patient while providing interpretations to help bring memories to the forefront. Freud believed this would result in a decrease in symptoms.

Around 1950, American psychology began to include more active therapies such as behavioral psychology to treat emotional and behavioral problems. Combining the therapy with an emphasis on thoughts and feelingsmade cognitive behavioral therapy a major type of treatment for many psychiatric conditions.

In the 1940s, Carl Rogers was founded unconditional positive regard, meaning the transmission of warmth, genuineness, and acceptance from the therapist to the individual. In the 1960s, over sixty types of psychotherapy surfaced, ranging from psychodrama to guided imagery.

Now, with the issues of price and time, psychotherapy treatment is incorporating more brief forms of treatment. This trend is further driven by the arrival of manged care insurance plans and limits to coverage. Today, there are many therapeutic modalities that offer some sort of brief therapy designed to help people deal with specific problems.


APA Reference

Haggerty, J. (2015). History of Psychotherapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2016, from