MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — North Alabama has seen its fair share of rain and overcast skies over the past 10 days — triggering seasonal depression and stress for some in the Tennessee Valley.

“With the weather the way it is, the lack of sunshine, it does increase that depression, and that desire to stay in bed when you can,” said Mary Ann Nichols, a licensed professional counselor.

Nichols practices in Madison, and typically works with patients 10 years old and older. She said fall and winter can be tough for people.

“About when the time changes, people start experiencing feeling down, fatigued, and then the holidays hit,” she continued.

Nichols recommends people who are looking for a step to take, to reach out to someone, like friends or family.

“Sometimes it’s reaching out and not talking about the depression, but saying ‘I need the socialization, I need that support from someone else’,” she said.

Nichols also recommended exercise like going on a walk. She suggested people who have dogs take their dogs on a walk rather than let them out in the backyard — or park farther away from the store when out Christmas shopping.

“Even though those are little bits, they still help,” she said.

She also recommended getting on a good sleep schedule and maintaining a good diet.

The holidays can also take a toll on people.

She said grief can come into play, particularly for people who are feeling the absence of a loved one. For others, attending every event can be overwhelming and a lot of pressure. Nichols said setting boundaries and making them known is okay.

“It’s okay to say no to some commitments,” she said. “It’s okay to say ‘I can’t attend that’ or ‘I won’t be able to do that’.”

Nichols also said after the holidays can be when it fully hits some people.

“Where I have typically seen the increase [in people with seasonal depression] is in January, after people have pushed through those holiday times, and then it all kind of hits,” she said.

If someone is looking for professional help, Nichols urges people to do it sooner rather than later.

“Doing it now, it’s an investment in their life, their happiness, and their overall wellbeing,” she said.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for a therapist, Nichols recommends Psychology Today. She said they offer resources that can help you find a provider in your area.

“Psychology Today lists mental health providers in your area, and it lists what insurance they take, what payment is, and what they specialize in,” Nichols continued.

She acknowledged how many practices are not taking new patients at the moment, due to an increase in people seeking help.

“Mental health is something that is more widely talked about now,” she said.

However, she urges people to keep trying to find a provider and reach out to multiple.

If a person feels overwhelmed by having to make a phone call to schedule an appointment with a provider, she said they can “email or text” in a lot of cases these days. You can find more information about Nichols Panorama Counseling by clicking here.

If you or a loved one needs immediate help, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7. You can call or text 988, anytime.