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Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Affect You?

December 18, 2014

Invisible disabilities are becoming a hot topic, and rightly so. In 2003 it was estimated that around 5 percent of Canadians were affected by at least 1 of a group of 3 invisible disabilities. While more research is needed, invisible disabilities remain a relevant subject of discussion.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a true invisible disability. It affects about 2 percent of Canadians, according to the UBC Hospital Mood Disorder Clinic (Vancouver).

Seasonal affective disorder is “a form of depression that occurs during the darker, colder months of the year”.

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?

  • Oversleeping
  • “Loss of interest in activities”
  • Fatigue
  • “Social withdrawal”
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Overeating
  • “Not being able to get out of bed”
  • Difficulty concentrating in the afternoon
  • Unhappiness
  • “Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement”

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

Residing in a location that tends to have longer winter nights can cause a person to develop seasonal affective disorder.  A person’s body temperature, genes, and hormones also have an effect on the development of SAD.

Women seem to be more apt to develop seasonal affective disorder than their male counterparts.

Is there help for seasonal affective disorder?

Yes! The amount of light a person is exposed to has a lot to do with whether or not he or she will develop seasonal affective disorder. That’s why light therapy can be really helpful in dealing with seasonal affective disorder. Light Therapy involves the use of a particular type of lamp that has florescent lights. Before beginning this therapy, be sure to discuss light therapy with your doctor.

Beyond light therapy, there are other things that can be done to manage the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Quick Tips for lessening the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder:

  • Stay social – This can be especially difficult when dealing with any kind of depression, but it is important to regularly engage in social activities. Even taking a trip to the grocery store may help!
  • Take walks outdoors – Take advantage of sunny days, even if they are cold. Bundle up and go for a brisk walk. Try to be in the natural sunlight as much as possible, but remember to stay safe by using sunscreen.
  • Exercise – This is typically quite helpful for symptoms of depression.

The good news is that seasonal affective disorder usually gets better as the winter months wear off. The better news is, light therapy, exercise, and exposure to sunshine may cause your seasonal affective disorder symptoms to go away quicker.

Have you ever considered that “the winter blues” may actually be a medical condition? If you feel you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder, consider visiting your physician.

Do you experience seasonal affective disorder? If so, tell us about your experience by leaving a comment in the “Reply” section below. We want to know what helps you feel better.


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