Keep active to help ward off winter letdowns

TROY — Struggles with mental health is not an uncommon occurrence this time of year.

“It is not uncommon for people to get down this time of year,” said Mark Casdorph, DO, an adult/adolescent/child psychiatrist at Upper Valley Medical Center.

According to Casdorph, two big factors affect people’s mental health this time of year.

Certain people get more clinically depressed in the fall and winter, suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

“It is common. It can be very serious,” Dr. Casdorph said.

For some people, there’s also the letdown following the huge rush of the holiday season.

“There is a feeling of letdown and people start to reconstitute their agendas, figure out what they want to do,” he said. “You can get a sense of loneliness, a sense of not being involved with others.”

And, sometimes, there are pressures from family in situations where possibly not everyone gets along.

“The holidays are looked at with heightened anxiety, where people feel like they have to act in a certain way, avoid upsetting others,” Casdorph said. “Tensions can be in families. That is not uncommon.”

According to Casdorph, a key to coping during the colder months is to stay active and engaged in life. Those looking for activity might consider pursuing a new hobby or reaching out to someone with a card, note or email to become or stay connected.

“People tend to pick people they like, and it makes them feel better,” he said. “It’s OK to avoid toxic relationships.”

Those who have trouble picking themselves up quickly need to talk to someone. That can be their primary care physician, a counselor or contacting a crisis line.

“It is very important for people to realize they don’t have to struggle. It is not a sign of weakness,” Casdorph said. “It is not a sign of anything inherently bad about them. They are suffering symptoms that are common, so reaching out is a big first step.”

For more information, call Upper Valley Behavioral Health at 937-440-7626 or visit