I think it would be fair to say most of the province, and likely the whole country, is ready for this winter to be over. It seems that since the first snowfall the brutal cold weather has been the topic of conversation and people are getting tired of it. While it is common to sometimes feel a little down during the winter months, for some people winter blues can turn into something much more serious, Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).
S.A.D. is a form of clinical depression that develops as the seasons change. It starts in the fall/winter months as the days get shorter and usually lasts until spring. Some symptoms of S.A.D. include increased need for sleep, lack of energy and motivation, weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, and depressed mood. If you notice severe changes in your mood and behavior when the seasons change, check in with your doctor as there are several treatment options for S.A.D.
As with any mood disorder, therapy may be helpful in helping an individual with S.A.D. learn new coping strategies and ways of thinking. Medication may also be an option. A treatment unique to S.A.D. is light therapy. This involves spending a short amount of time (usually 15-30 minutes) exposed to light in a specialized setting. Light therapy involves the use of specialized lamps that are prescribed by a doctor. Staring into your bedroom light won’t cut it and can do more harm than good. Again, see your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about S.A.D. or your mental health in general.
Whether you are experiencing S.A.D. or a case of the winter blahs, exercise and social connection can go a long way in helping you feel better. Find ways to keep yourself entertained and busy. Even though I haven’t left the house this weekend (I draw the line at leaving the house at -50), I have chatted with friends, done a couple of workouts, and baked up a storm. While I’m definitely ready for warmer temperatures, keeping busy and doing activities I enjoy have gone a long way in boosting my mood. What have you been doing to keep your mood up during the winter months?