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Time change can have negative effect on mental health

St. Joseph News-Press - 11/4/2022

Nov. 4—With daylight saving time ending early Sunday and the clocks falling back, the impact of less sunlight is undeniable.

However, while Ellen Beier, a local therapist, said she believes the time change can serve as an aggravating factor for people who have mood disorders, she does not find that it has been the main component people blame for mental health issues.

"I think that the spring switch is actually harder on people's sleep schedules," Beier said. "The fall switch though, the way it coincides with, we all are experiencing less light and this change of seasons ... it is definitely a transition that can change people's moods. It can add a little stress."

Beier acknowledged that families with small children may struggle when the time comes to adjust the clocks, as it adds difficulty and stress to maintaining a sleep schedule.

"Kids are not aware of what that clock is doing, they're aware of what their bodies are telling them," Beier said. "It's going to take some time and, therefore, for everyone it takes a little bit of adjustment."

If difficulties adjusting persist, seeking support is a good idea.

"If you do find things now are affecting your mood, if you are struggling, it is a good time to find trustworthy connections," Beier said. "If you have those people in your life that you can just reach out to and express what you were feeling, it's a good time to do that. If you need access to mental health care, reach out, start making that research to where you can go to find the care that you need."

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, fewer hours of daylight due to turning clocks back can extenuate seasonal affective disorder or other mood disorders people may suffer from. From disrupting circadian rhythms, changing sleep schedules and exacerbating negative self-talk and thoughts, the change in daylight hours is felt across many aspects of life.

"I do think that that shift of the seasons is just really important for people to be aware of, 'How do I plan for that and how do I take care of myself in the midst of that time when my mood is affected?'" Beier said. "Part of it is, I think that we do sort of slowdown in our social interactions. We are not out and about as much because if we can avoid it, we don't go out on those days."

Stef Manchen can be reached at


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