Have you ever felt your energy being sapped during winter months?
That might be because you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
So what is it and how should one deal with it? The McComb Show investigates…
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD is a type of depression.
About 2-5% of Canadians suffer from a severe clinical form of seasonal depression. 10-15% more are also strongly, though less severely affected. But they’re not alone. It’s estimated that as much as 35% of the population gets the “winter blues.”
That’s a much milder situation where the darkness and the weather add a layer on top of life, keeping people less positive than they would be in the sunnier seasons.
SAD kicks in during the winter months – generally in the fall, right about daylight savings time, and tends to improve as the spring rolls around.
Symptoms can include depression, irritability, trouble concentrating, aches, poor sex drive, poor sleep, even a craving for carbs.
For people who are affected with SAD every year, there are a number of treatment options to try.
Some of the most common include:
- Light therapy (literally sitting in front of a special light designed to help compensate for lost sunlight
- Anti-depressant medication.
- Tryptophan supplements which help boost serotonin (the happy chemical) in the brain.
HealthLink BC also offers some tips.
SAD doesn’t affect everyone, and for a brighter story on seasonal depression, we hear from Kari Liebowitz & look to the small town of Tromso, Norway…
“It’s this town of 70,000 people, north of the Arctic Circle, and it’s so far north that, during the winter, they experience two months of what they call polar night, during which that time, the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon. And I thought, ‘I bet they have a big problem with Seasonal Affective Disorder there.’ But, as I did more research, I realized that actually, the rates of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and overall, winter time mental distress are a lot lower in Tomson than you would expect. I thought that was really interesting; if I could spend some time in Tromso trying to figure out basically why they’re able to flourish, and how they’re able to flourish, even during these long, cold, dark winters.”
What did Kari take away from her time spent in Tromso?
“I think the idea of sort of leaning into the coziness, and finding the things you love about winter can be really helpful. And I also think that Norweigans are active in a wide variety of circumstances. In the rain, in the snow… there’s this saying there that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. The lifestyle of getting outside and being active, no matter what the weather is really contributes to their seasonal well-being.”
So make the best of the winter and just remember: Spring and Summer is just around the corner!