Have you noticed changes in your mood and general well-being with the change of the seasons? For many people (approximately 2 to 3% of Canadians), the changing of the seasons has a significant impact on their mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year. Symptoms include (but not limited to):
Changes in weight
Loss of appetite
Loss of interest in activities
Thoughts of suicide/self-harm
With the clocks falling back an hour over the weekend, we're even more vulnerable to the impact of seasonal changes on our mental and emotional health. Our sleep cycle is disrupted; there are fewer daylight hours, which impacts our mood; our activity levels decrease due to the weather - all of these factors are necessary to maintain proper emotional and mental hygiene. It is no wonder how much seasonal changes can be disruptive.
Here are some practical ways to address some of your symptoms:
Make a plan of various activities that you can do outdoors throughout the season. This will give you access to sunlight, and enjoying nature can help to decrease stress hormones.
Open curtains during the daytime
Plan a brief vacation to warmer, sunnier climates
Eat a balanced diet
Create a comfortable and optimal space for sleep by regulating the temperature and sounds in the room, and having comfortable and supportive bedding
Get therapy to support you through distressing thoughts and emotions associated with SAD
Seek medical help for more severe symptoms, especially if there have been pre-existing vulnerabilities to depression.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of SAD, contact your doctor. If you're interested in therapy to help you address what you're experiencing, feel free to call 416-688-5274 for an initial consultation.