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Darkness, holiday rush can take toll on mental health

St. Joseph News-Press - 12/3/2023

Dec. 3—The combination of shorter days and holiday stress can make what's usually a joyful season a time of darkness for some struggling with depression.

Katie Miron, the director of counseling at Missouri Western State University, said an influx of people seeking to address mental health concerns is common at this point in the year.

"Since we have daylight saving now, we have definitely noticed an uptick in our students that are coming in for appointments," she said.

With the sun going down earlier, there is less light for people to intake can could lead to lower serotonin levels. That can disrupt a person's circadian rhythm or "human clock."

With that "human clock" already off, the stress of the holidays can become even more overwhelming. Miron offers some tips on how to keep your mental health in check.

"Make sure you are not doing things that will overextend yourself," Miron said. "It's OK to say no to people during the holidays. You don't have to go to all the parties and pay attention to everything around you if it will be too stressful."

If the stress becomes too much, it's important to reach out for help.

Miron said Missouri Western offers free counseling to students and also has a partnership with Family Guidance. Several agencies in St. Joseph offer mental health services and those resources can be found at

For mental health emergencies, dial 9-8-8.


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