The winter season making you feel a little off? You may be experiencing ‘The Winter Blues’ but you may hear the term “Seasonal Affective Disorder” much more. We spoke with an expert about the differences between both conditions and how you can prevent and treat both.
Today’s record-breaking cold temperatures has people either embracing it, or wishing it was june already.
Experts say about 15% of Canadians will experience the winter blues. However, just over 2 million Canadians will develop a condition much more debilitating.
“Seasonal Affected Disorder is a disease. It’s a depressive disorder that requires treatments.” says Psychiatrist Dr. Zena Samaan.
Samaan says that both are caused by a lack of sunlight not the presence of cold temps.
Dr. Samaan continues to say, “Our internal clock that responds to light so when there’s no light we have less activity of seratonin and lots of melatonin and the combination of those make us sleepy, sluggish, wanting to eat sugars, wanting to eat carbs we don’t want to do anything and we gain weight.”
But for those with S.A.D., those traits are accompanied by frequent thoughts of death and dying and an inability to continue their daily routine.
In order to catch it, Dr. Samaan says recognition is key. ‘Some people keep a mood diary, a sleep-pattern diary, a food diary to see over the season what do they look like and if it happens again next season then you really need to get help.”
She also recommends a S.A.D. light that you should use in the months leading up to and following winter. In Umea, Sweden, where they only get about 4 hours of sun in January, they’ve installed these S.A.D. lights in their bus shelters.
But if it’s just the blues, the doctor says nothing beats good ‘old fashioned physical activity.
And if you have the financial means, a last-minute tropical vacation could definitely do the trick. Coincidently, some travel companies are offering up to 40% off all-inclusive vacations. For instance for just over $11 hundred, you could go to a four star resort in the Domincan and the plane leaves next Thursday.