Fall time change can cause worsening mental health: expert

If Daylight Saving Time has some Albertans feeling a little bit off Monday, they’re not alone.

CityNews spoke with a clinical psychologist who says the fall time change has been linked to mood disorders and worsening of mental health.

According to Keith Dobson, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Calgary, it’s actually very common to feel a disruption to one’s body, sleep, and mental health during the transition from daylight saving to standard time.

But, for some, that transition is actually the start of something more serious.

“There’s two different issues here — one is, of course, the resetting of the clocks and for most people that’s a relatively short reset. For most people that’s a relatively short reset, it take a couple of days, maybe three days, for people to recognize the clocks have shifted and the daylight has shifted,” he explained. “The other change, the shortening of the days, is potentially more serious for some people.”

Dobson says seasonal affective disorder affects millions of Canadians and the colder, darker days that come along with that fall time change are often the beginning of a mental health decline that can last for months.

He says it’s important to step back and assess your patterns and behaviours and to recognize the signs of depression.

“Withdrawal, isolation, lethargy, increased sleep, shifts in sleeping patterns, putting on weight; so, if you see these patterns in yourself, it’s a good idea to either go online and do an assessment — there are many things that are available — or, go and see your family physician, because he or she can then do a formal assessment and determine if some more appropriate therapy is needed,” Dobson explained.

It’s also a good practice to consult with a family doctor or call 822 to speak to a mental health expert.

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