Feeling SAD In Winter
The weather is a fairly safe topic of conversation, and as Canadians, we often complain about the winter. There’s a lot not to love, including the lack of sunshine and the chilly weather that makes us want to hibernate. And these realities can definitely contribute to a sense of un-well-being once Christmas, with its parties and joy and lights, has passed, and the reality of a long, hard winter has started to sink in.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, no longer considered its own entity but now seen as a “recurring major depression with a seasonal pattern,” is triggered or intensified when the amount of light in the fall and winter decreases. (There’s also a summer variation of SAD, too, although that’s less common.) Occurrences of depression tend to go up over the winter, and go back down again as spring starts to take hold. Symptoms may be the same for both children and adults – changes in mood, in sleep, in appetite – although with kids, they may be more commonly grumpy and irritable than sad, and men are often more angry and irritable than sad.
The good news is that this type of depression can be treated without medication or psychotherapy. Increasing one’s exposure to light can be enormously effective. That can be a challenge in our light-deprived days, but when we do have a bright and sunny day, enjoy the sunlight and the cold weather activities.
If that’s not enough, you or your child might benefit from a light box. It’s a simple device that you sit in front of, typically for 45 minutes each day, allowing the light to be absorbed by your eyes. It can greatly improve your mood and it couldn’t be easier to use.
Chat with your doctor if you feel that your down mood this winter is more than just “not liking” the cold. All it might take is a bit of light to make the winter more bearable. So look for opportunities to get outside and make the most of the winter sunshine. Bundle up and get outside!