Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Don’t be SAD – Spring is around the corner!

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that usually takes place during the winter time. Symptoms often include mood change, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, decreased concentration, weight loss/weight gain, social withdrawal and fatigue. SAD is often confused with moodiness, however, it is an actual form of depression affected by seasonal change (decreased temperature, exposure to natural daylight, etc.). Ultimately, this hormonal state is a total reflection of the body’s production of the chemical melatonin.

E_shutterstock_188393915Many people are affected by seasonal emotional changes, patterns of sleep, eating habits and general wellness. The “winter blues” is not uncommon; however, when changes in mood become extreme to the degree that it actually becomes a form of depression, that is likely not just the “winter blues”. About 2 to 6% of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. Another 15% experience a milder form of SAD. People who reside in northern countries are more likely to experience SAD than those who live closer to the equator[1].

What can you do to combat SAD?
  • Light Therapy
    • There are products on the market that are said to produce natural light. Light therapy lamps can range in type and brightness. Light produces vitamin D which exhibits “happy chemicals”. Doctors would be able to provide insight into which type would be best suited for you.
  • Antidepressants
    • In certain circumstances, antidepressants can be described to help control anxiety and mood. If a medication is the most efficient and appropriate option, a doctor or psychiatrist will be able to provide guidance.
  • Exercise
    • Exercise can aid in depression reduction and produce endorphins. Endorphins are “happy chemicals” that can provide you with feelings of fulfillment and contentment.
  • Plan a trip down South
    • If you can swing it, a getaway can really help restore some vitamin D and melatonin back in your body. A week in the warm weather and sunlight can work wonders and having something to look forward to can be of help in itself.
  • Embrace the Outdoors
    • If you are an early riser for work and a late worker, it is likely that you are not seeing much daylight during the months of December to February. Try to take your lunch hour to get outside – go for a quick walk. If you really are not inclined to spend time in cold weather, eat your lunch near a window. It may be cold, but the sun could be shining. Sun in itself can make a big difference!
Even though the cold and snowy days have you wanting to stay in, curl up in a ball and hibernate, it is important to recognize that SAD can be a true form of depression which requires some work. Do not just chalk it up to a “winter thing”. When symptoms hit and get in the way of regular day-to-day living, take charge and experiment with different techniques that can help combat SAD…and rest assured – Spring is right around the corner!

[1] Mood Disorder Association of Ontario

1 comment:

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