Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is that time of year when many may start feeling the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.  As the days get shorter, it gets darker earlier, and we don’t spend as much time outside as we did in the summer.  We may feel tired, and just not ourselves.  It is quite common to get part way through the winter and feel “blah.”  2 to 6% of Canadians will experience seasonal affective disorder, 15% will have a milder case of it.

So, what is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

Essentially, SAD is a mood disorder that happens at the change of a season, usually occurring late fall, when we start getting less sunlight.  Improvement is usually seen when Spring comes.  Many people find they are more tired, and irritable, increase in appetite and weight gain.  If you have experienced a low mood over the past two winters and then a period of improved mood over the summer months, you could have seasonal affective disorder.


The most common treatment is to try and get more sunlight.  Spend time outside in the winter, enjoying those sunny winter days.  If you aren’t a fan of being outside in the winter, you can try a special light, called phototherapy.  You sit a few feet away from this light which can changing brain chemical that affects mood.

Medication and therapy can be useful for both types of seasonal affective disorder.  In therapy you would cover topics such as changing negative thought patterns, scheduling pleasurable activities, and stress management.

Before trying any form of treatment consult with your doctor or other health care professional to make sure you are seeking out the best treatment possible for you.



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