A man in Minorca confined to home with his dog.

25-03-2020Josep Bagur Gomila

The clocks go forward an hour at two o'clock on Sunday morning, and this change can result in an increase in stress and anxiety. Given current conditions of confinement, this might be more acute than normal.

Miguel Lázaro, a psychiatrist and president of the Balearics Medical Union, says that these mental alterations also occur when there are atmospheric or temperature changes. "It's what we call meteorological stress or meteorosensitivity. It typically affects some 25% of the population."

People who are vulnerable in terms of their mental health are the most susceptible to these shifts. Symptoms following the hour's change "are mild and manifest themselves through tiredness or feeling down". The impact usually lasts two to three days. "Our brain has a biological clock which somehow forces itself to readjust to the alteration." The change in spring, Lázaro adds, usually most impact people suffering from anxiety disorders or chronic stress.

According to the psychiatrist at Inca Hospital, Javier Kuhalainen, stress and anxiety are being caused by prolonged confinement. "The symptoms are the same as in any other stressful situation where there is an abrupt change to routine." Alterations to habits, be these for atmospheric or climatic reasons or because of the change of hour, most affect people with depression or a serious mental disorder.

The recommendation is to maintain a routine, especially to regulate increased appetite. Lázaro points out that this doesn't have a direct relationship with the change of hour but that it can have with anxiety or stress. "One doesn't eat because of appetite; the brain eats in order to satisfy itself." It is advisable, therefore, to maintain physical activity so that the hour's change isn't aggravated by confinement.

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