As winter rolls in, does your mood become more negative and you notice a change in your attitude? You might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects many people. SAD is an actual type of depressive disorder that occurs during the winter months. You might be surprised to learn close to a half a million people suffer from this disorder throughout Canada and North America.
Common symptoms of SAD vary from one person to the next, but could include some or all of the following:
- Problems getting a good night’s rest.
- Are you sleeping more but not feeling rested?
- Ability to concentrate may be impaired.
- Unexplainable anxiety.
- Loss of interest in sex and decreased sexual drive.
- Unexplainable changes in moods and attitudes.
- Craving starch carbohydrates (rice, bread, pasta).
- Loss of enthusiasm.
- A lack of energy.
- Not wanting to socialize with friends and family.
- A general sense or depression.
The cause of SAD has been related to changes within the body due to shorter daylight hours during the wintertime. Our brain detects the reduction of natural sunlight and creates an imbalance of natural biochemicals within the body.
There are several treatments for SAD, depending upon each person’s diagnosis. One popular form of treatment is attending therapy sessions through a licensed counselling center. Counselling provides you with a safe and secure environment to discuss your condition and discover various ways for you to manage SAD through the winter months. Managing SAD often requires making changes to your routines in order to help improve your condition and help you achieve a better emotional state.
One thing you can do is to set aside time each day where you spend it outdoors on sunny days. Exposure to sunlight for about thirty minutes each day helps to elevate your mood. Another treatment for SAD is to exercise in a well-lighted location at least three times a week for a minimum of a half hour. Exercise allows the body to naturally help restore balance to the biochemical imbalance caused by SAD.
People with SAD are still able to perform their normal daily jobs and activities. However, they do need to make slight adjustments to their indoor environments by adding additional lighting and making areas brighter. Make sure work areas are well-lit and all overhead lighting is functioning correctly. The use of a multi-light lamp near your work area is also beneficial as it increases the brightness.
At home, make sure there is plenty of light in the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Avoid eating, watching TV, reading, and doing other activities in poorly lit areas. If you need to increase the brightness, consider adding table lamps or purchasing natural daylight bulbs. Natural daylight bulbs simulate the same brightness levels as sunlight. On the days you are at home, open up curtains and blinds to let sunlight into the home.
If you are not sure whether you have SAD or want to find out more about how counselling will help, please feel free to contact Bayridge Counselling Centre at 905-319-1488 today. We have over 50 highly qualified therapists and several counselling clinic locations, making it easy for everyone to find the help they need in the GTA.