Seasonal Affective Disorder aka Winter Blues

With the days getting shorter, colder and most of all darker, we all experience a little bit of mood changes. However, if during these days your moods are more intense with overwhelming sadness and other symptoms then you may need to do a little mental health ‘check-in’ with yourself.

The sun makes a world of difference on our mental health; the benefits of vitamin D are laid out in factual research by mental health experts. Therefore, it is only natural to feel a little down when the sunshine is gone, literally. This is so evident in people that doctors now have a diagnosis which is called, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a depression that comes on stronger at certain times of the year. The fall/winter seasons are usually when reports get higher. However, SAD is also felt in the spring/ summer months with higher risk to those who have immediate family members with the disorder.

SAD can be difficult to diagnose since most feel symptoms which are also common to depression and bipolar disorder. However, you can stay on top of your mental health when seasons change by using the checklist below and visiting your family doctor. Especially if you feel the symptoms come on more than two consecutive winters, without any other explanation of changes in your mood or behaviour.

It is known that 1 in every 5 Canadians will experience a mental health illness at some point in their lives. Let’s support mental health by talking about the stigma attached to mental illness and break those barriers by spreading awareness in your circle. Be it at home, work, friends, where ever you can voice the importance of acceptance, you are making a difference. Be supportive to those around you most vulnerable and learn to accept the symptoms and treatment if you experience this yourself. Spread awareness and seek support by talking to professionals if you or any of your loved ones feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tiredness or low in energy
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of death or suicide