The shorter, darker days of winter are here. Do you ever feel different during these rainy, dreary days in BC? You might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that causes people who otherwise experience normal mental health throughout the year to display depressive symptoms at the same time every year. This mood disorder most commonly occurs in the winter as a result of the shorter, darker days that the winter brings.
SAD affects 2-3% of Canadians in their lifetime, with another 15% experiencing a milder form of it. Some of the most common symptoms of SAD are:
- Desire to sleep all the time
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain
- Feeling down and hopeless
- Increased stress
- Avoiding things you normally enjoy
It can be easy to let SAD get you down, but there are ways to fight back!
Make sure to visit your doctor if you think you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder and discuss what treatment options would work best for you.
This form of treatment involves sitting in front of a specialized light box that emits either bright white, blue, or green light for 30-60 minutes a day. The intense nature of the artificial light causes a chemical change in your brain that works towards improving your mood and relieving the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This therapy method has proven to be effective as upwards of 60% of people experiencing symptoms of SAD notice major improvements after this treatment.
Vitamin D & Nutrition
We often forget how important sunshine and Vitamin D are until we're experiencing a severe lack of both. A severe lack of Vitamin D is one of the leading contributors to SAD being such a common problem for people during the winter season. With sunshine at a premium during the winter in BC, Vitamin D supplements can be an effective way of making sure you're getting enough on a daily basis.
You can also look towards your diet to fill in for any deficiencies in Vitamin D. Reach for foods rich in Vitamin D like egg yolks, cheese, beef liver, and fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon as a way to get your levels higher up.
You're probably well aware of the physical benefits exercise can have on the body, but did you know about all the benefits it can have on your mental health? There are few problems in life that exercising can't fix. Daily exercise has been proven to be an effective form of treatment for depression. Regular exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, the "feel good" chemicals in your brain that help you feel more relaxed and calm. Daily exercise will also help you get in a good nights sleep which will go a long way in helping relieve any depressive symptoms you may be feeling.
It's important to get outside a little bit each day, even if the cold weather outside makes you want to stay indoors. Doing something as simple as walking outside for 30 minutes a day will go a long way in helping improve your mood. You will be getting exercise while reaping the benefits of exposure to the sun!