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Treat yourself to combat the holiday blues Maryland, here’s how

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Kristen Mosbrucker
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A view of downtown Baltimore during the winter holiday season.

The holidays aren’t always cheery. Despite all of the talk of joy and happiness, the fact is that the winter is a depressing time for many Marylanders.

There are fewer hours of sunlight across North America starting in late June through Dec. 21, the shortest day and longest night of the year, known as winter solstice. Not everyone enjoys such little sunlight and dark cold winter nights. Sleeping patterns may even be disrupted for some.

About a quarter of Americans will feel some kind of sadness related to the winter season, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Roughly 5% of the population will feel the effects of seasonal depression.

Signs of winter depression include feeling listless, sad or down; losing interest in activities you enjoy; having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much and having low energy.

“Winter time is more difficult than spring in summer, and the holiday season is even more difficult,” said La Keita Carter, a licensed psychologist and owner of the Institute for Healing LLC who also serves as the vice president of the board of the directors for the Baltimore-based Black Mental Health Alliance.

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La Keita Carter
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La Keita Carter is a licensed psychologist and the owner of the Institute for HEALing in Owings Mills. She’s also the vice president of the Board of Directors of the Black Mental Health Alliance.

Carter appeared on Midday with Tom Hall in mid-December, listen to the entire episode here.

“We have people who are going through grief, this will be their first holiday season without their loved one. We also have people who are experiencing a lot of social pressure,” Carter said.

People can combat winter depression by taking into account their whole seasonal experience, she said.

“Think about ‘How do I want to show up in these spaces that I have for this holiday season?’” she said. “Write out a plan for how that can happen? If you want to show up with energy and excitement, then what are the things that deplete that energy and excitement by the end of Hanukkah? And then don't do those things? What are the things that deplete your financial resources so that by January 5, you're completely stressed, and you're having to pick up a second job? whatever those things are, don't do those things.”

For those feeling like they are in crisis, Carter suggests calling the nationwide 988 mental health support hotline. The phone lifeline connects people with train counselors who can listen and provide support for free.

It’s also important for people to take time to take care of themselves this holiday season, even with all the other events going on, she said.

Scott is the Health Reporter for WYPR. @smaucionewypr
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