Doctor shares tips to protect mental well-being amid time change

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — People will be losing an hour of sleep come Sunday when the clocks spring forward, but they could gain a happier mood.

Dr. Shannon Stromberg, the medical director for the Presbyterian Behavioral Health Program, said more sun makes people feel better. However, not everyone could get that boost in emotions.

"The mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are real, and we’re seeing them now,” he said.

Dr. Stromberg explained more people, even patients without a mental health history, are visiting the department seeking help for stress, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.

He said there are other things people should seek help for that they might want to write off like a change in sleep pattern, diet and personality.

Dr. Stromberg is worried people won’t think they need help and believe their mental health issues will go away when the pandemic is over.

“If the damage is severe enough, the problem may not go away. The problem may linger, maybe for a long time,” he said. “What we don’t want people to say is, ‘Well it’s just a really stressful time and I’m gonna have to get through this.’”

If anyone is thinking of suicide, hurting others or showing any symptoms listed above, they’re asked to call a free 24/7 hotline at 1-800-985-5990.