Some Moose Jaw residents may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is common this time of the year with limited sunshine, colder weather, and even holiday stress more prevalent.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), SAD can be defined as a form of depression, which usually starts in the fall when the days get shorter and could worsen moving into winter as the temperatures become colder.
Rebecca Rackow, the Director of Advocacy, Research, and Public Policy for CMHA Saskatchewan says when it comes to SAD there are two ways to look at it.
“These are the shortest days of the year and the longest nights and because of that, there is a deficiency of Vitamin D in your body,” says Rackow. “It’s also cold so even when it’s bright and shiny, you’re inside where there is artificial lighting and don’t get to absorb some of those vitamins.”
“Vitamin D actually helps with creating positive chemicals in your brain, so when you’re short on those vitamins, you’re less happy and that attributes to SAD,” adds Rackow.
SAD isn’t specific to a certain age or gender, as anyone could in some size, shape, or form be impacted by it. Rackow notes that only about 10 per cent of the population deals with or is affected by SAD.
The question remains, how does a person know when they are dealing with or in the midst of SAD?
“It’s very much similar to mild depression. You’re looking at less motivation to do things, and less compulsion to go outside. Someone will look down, be reluctant to try new things, or get as much enjoyment out of the things that they usually get enjoyment from.”
She does suggest some ways to combat SAD in the winter months – the biggest one is just trying to override those sad or dark feelings.
“Things like building a snowman, going out skiing, and outdoor type things. That motivation may not be there but if your brain knows that you need to do this and getting that sunlight is a good thing to do. A lot of people use lights that mimic sunlight and actually provide proper lighting that allows your brain to think it’s daylight for a little while longer.”
Another way to combat this seasonal illness is to make sure to have a community support system around you.
“Other people can notice and it’s hard to notice when it’s you. Look around you, notice other people and help motivate them so that as a community you can take care of each other.”
Not only can SAD have severe effects on you, but it could also put a strain on one’s marriage or relationship.
“Have some patience with each other. Maybe it isn’t always best to point out to that person. It is the right thing to do to say hey let’s go and do something and find a way to get out of this.”
If the negative feelings remain despite making some changes, Rackow suggests meeting with your family doctor, speaking to a friend, meeting with a counselor, or reaching out to the CMHA or a community organization for help.