Mental Health

‘I think everyone's affected': San Diego therapist explains gloomy weather's mental health impact

The lack of sunshine is leaving some people feeling more sluggish and less energetic than usual

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From “gray-pril” to May Gray and now June Gloom, San Diego has seen more cloud cover than usual for the start of the year. According to NWS San Diego, San Diego International Airport did not record one day of completely clear skies in the month of May.

The lack of sunshine is leaving some people feeling more sluggish and less energetic than usual. Kathryn de Bruin, a licensed therapist in San Diego, told NBC 7 that the gloomy weather could be what is to blame for feeling “off.”

“We are just not used to this kind of gloomy weather in June. We just came through Mental Health Awareness Month last month, right? But we actually need to look out for one another now,” de Bruin said.

She has been working in San Diego for more than two decades and is primarily a marriage and family therapist. She said she and her family have been trying to stay busy to battle feeling unmotivated.

“I think everyone’s affected,” de Bruin said. “I’m glad that people are talking about it because actually reaching out and sharing your feelings with others is the best way to feel better.”

However, she admitted that coping with the lack of sunshine is a new thing for most residents in the area to manage.

“We start feeling sort of sad. There’s literally like a loss of sunshine. There’s a loss of that Vitamin D in our bodies,” she said. “Many of us have chosen to live in San Diego because we do love the sun.”

So, she added it is OK to not feel quite like yourself right now.

“I think we need to honor the way that we feel and know that this is unusual and that requires an adjustment from us,” de Bruin said.

If you don’t want to rely on blue skies to feel uplifted, de Bruin told NBC 7 there are things you can do to beat the gloom, and, she added, it may not be what you usually think of, such as vitamins and exercise.

“If you’re around loved ones, actually, the degree of warmth and connection that you feel in that relationship can really boost your mood, so when the sun’s not providing that warmth, look for that warmth in a close relationship,” de Bruin said.

She also said that if weather-related sadness is not addressed, it could become more serious and lead to depression.

“When we feel down, sometimes we aren’t reaching out as often, and then we tend to isolate, and the more that you isolate, people tend to feel lonely,” de Bruin said. 

With that in mind, she encourages people to check in on one another– especially those who are often alone, like older friends and family.

If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available to call or text 24/7 at 988.

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