Winter Getting You Down? ... Information on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

wellness column

By Giovanni Perissinotti MSW, RSW,

Clinical Social Worker,

Windsor Family Health Team, St. Clair College

During this cold winter that we are having, many people’s moods can be affected. It’s cold. It’s overcast and snowy. Motivation to do things can be diminished during these cold winter days, whether it is our daily tasks that we need to do, or physical activities such as going to the gym may seem not worth it.

Some people may also be more susceptible to a condition called Seasonal Affective disorder or SAD.

This is often referred to as the “Winter Blues” or “Seasonal Depression”.

It can manifest as the winter season begins and drags on, but will usually disappear as the weather turns warmer in the spring.

Some of the symptoms can include anxiety, loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy, sadness, attending fewer or no social activities, unable to concentrate, being irritable, and being moody or grumpy.

Here are some tips to manage – and possibly prevent – SAD:

• Exercise regularly. TIP: Take an exercise class or walk at an indoor track. Keep your body moving! How about trying skiing, ice skating or outdoor winter activities to help making winter more fun and active?

• Use sunshine to your advantage. TIP: Sit in a pool of sunlight indoors (near a big window) or if you can, consider spending more time outdoors. Engage in winter activities!

• Attempt to decrease stress. TIP: Try progressive muscle relaxation to reduce tension. Use calm.com, YouTube or try a yoga class!

• Get regular rest – seven to eight hours per night is best. TIP: No sleeping in or going to bed too early, keep a routine.

• Eat a well balanced diet. TIP: SAD sufferers tend to crave sweets and starches, so be mindful to eat lighter foods, and many fruits, vegetables and protein.

If you are finding that these are not helpful, speak to your primary health-care provider. They may be able to suggest Vitamin D supplements, as well as other possible treatments to help you manage.