Weathering winter: Strategies for coping with seasonal affective disorder
What is seasonal affective disorder?
SAD is a type of depression linked to specific seasons, most commonly occurring in the winter months. Researchers are still determining the cause of SAD, but believe it is linked to a lack of sunlight, which affects serotonin levels.
People with SAD may experience:
- persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- low energy levels
- loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- difficulty concentrating
- changes in sleep or appetite
3 strategies for managing seasonal affective disorder
There are steps you can take to help manage SAD including:
- Light exposure – Try to spend time each day in natural sunlight. Take a walk outside on your lunch break or if you’re indoors, position yourself near a sunny window. Light therapy mimics natural sunlight and is another widely used treatment option.
- Healthy lifestyle – Prioritize your physical health with regular exercise and a nutritious diet to improve your mood and increase your energy levels.
- Practice mindfulness – Build positive habits into your daily routine such as meditation, positive affirmations or deep breathing.
Alberta Primary Care Networks offer a variety of free mental health support ranging from one-on-one counselling to in-person and virtual workshops. Visit www.albertapcns.ca or talk to your family doctor to learn more about the support available to you.
If you are in a crisis, struggling with severe depression or anxiety or having suicidal thoughts, please call the Distress Centre’s 24-hour helpline at 403-266-4357 or call 211.