Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the change in seasons. It often starts when the temperature dips and days get shorter, and can last until April or May.
Regional Lead for Mental Wellness and Prevention of Substance Harms at Northern Health, Stacie Weich, said they do usually see more people come by during this time citing the “winter blues”.
“With the days being shorter and the lack of sunshine, people can feel a little grumpy or irritable, don’t have as much interest in activities that they otherwise would, those kinds of things,” she explained, adding a big part of it is your daily routine.
“Making sure to sit down and think about how you’re caring for yourself and your basic needs. Things like physical activity, social connectedness, are you spiritually or culturally connected; those can have a lot of influence and impact on how we feel.”
One theory of why this happens is a lack of vitamin D, largely because of the lack of sunlight. People in countries and cities further north are more likely to be affected than those in places closer to the equator. Despite this theory, researchers are not 100% confident in what actually causes it.
For those feeling the effects, your best option is likely the most obvious.
“The first and most important thing is to go see your doctor,” said Devon Flynn, Regional Coordinator for the Gatekeeper Program at the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“The reason we suggest that first is because there may be other causes for the symptoms so they can help weed out whether or not it may be related to other things.
“Aside from seeing your doctor, you can spend more time outdoors. Walk instead of drive if you can, be proactive if you are able to, try to eat well, and just being aware of symptoms, I think, makes a huge difference.”
Flynn noted there are ways to counter the lack of vitamin D as well. He listed light therapy, medication, and counseling for cognitive behavioral therapy.
(Files from Matt Fetinko with MyPrinceGeorgeNow)