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Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice

Summer Solstice 2024

Navigating the Mental Health Crisis in Young Adults


January 14, 2016

“If you happen to find that the dark days of winter are producing more personal distress and anxiety than usual, you are not alone,” said Richard R. Karges, Hopewell Executive Director/CEO. “The good news is that these dark days do not have to be a dreaded experience if you take some proactive steps.”

Karges offers five ways you might consider to help make your winter more enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding. According to Karges, “You can focus on the bright side.” Research tells us that the lack of sunlight, along with lots of cold and wintry weather compound the ­­situation. Doctors refer to this condition as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).


These suggestions may help, according to Karges:

  • Light therapy offers some effectiveness. Light therapy boxes are available to imitate the outdoors. You can buy them without a prescription, but they can be costly. The best time to use light therapy is in the morning. Typically, light therapy takes about 30 minutes a day.
  • Seek a clinician who can coach you through these dark days and figure out if it is indeed SAD or a life changing event such as death in the family that is the true cause of depression. A medical professional may also prescribe antidepressants, if determined necessary.
  • It is important to find the cause of depression. Make an appointment with a professional who can diagnose SAD or another type of depression. Depression can be caused by past memories or upcoming events. Sometimes we overlook the time of the year in relation to life events.
  • The sundoesshine in the winter, just not as much. Changing your work schedule or daily routine to make a point of experiencing the sunshine when it does make an appearance can be helpful, as well.
  • Why not take a vacation where it’s warm and sunny? And, be sure to maintain your relationships with friends and family.

Background on SAD

Women, especially those in their twenties, are most susceptible to seasonal affective disorder, but it can affect men and women of all ages, including children and teens. Often people with seasonal depression have at least one close relative with a psychiatric disorder, typically major depressive disorder or alcohol abuse.

SAD symptoms emerge during the darker winter months, then disappear as days grow longer and brighter as spring comes. It’s estimated that a half-million people in the United States may have seasonal depression, according to Karges.

Symptoms of SAD include weight gain, daytime fatigue, increased irritability and anxiety and social withdrawal.

Information, Assessments and Counseling Available

“Obviously, SAD is treatable. During the dark days of winter, we may reflect on ways to improve our life and the lives of those near and dear to us who need psychiatric intervention,” said Karges. “As a therapeutic working farm, Hopewell offers numerous programs successfully helping people with mental illness achieve their potential and contribute to society.”

Information, counseling and assessments are available by contacting Beth Orr, director of admissions at 440.426.2009. Tours are also possible. Visit

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