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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), What is it?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of sadness/depression that comes with particular seasons depending on the individual. For most folks this depression begins in the late fall and/or early winter and lasts throughout the cold winter months. Some other folks begin to become deeply saddened when the warmer seasons like spring and summer begin. For those who have the colder months version of SAD, they may feel depressed because of the lack of sunlight, having to bundle up to go outside, not being able to go swimming as frequently, all the leaves and flowers dying due to the colder weather, and many other reasons. For the folks with SAD that is associated with the warmer seasons, they may feel sadder because they may be expected to go outside and socialise more often, they may miss curing up by the fire and sipping a warm drink, miss having to bundle up, they may not care for the heat that comes with spring and summer, as well as other reasons.

Who is affected by SAD?

In Canada, around 3% of the population will experience a form of seasonal affective disorder at some point in their lives. This disorder makes up 10% of the population’s depression cases. Some groups of individuals are at higher risk for developing or being born with a risk of developing SAD. These individuals are women (who are 9x more likely to develop or have SAD than men), being an adult, and those people who live in northern Canada or other northern regions where there are shorter or non-existent bouts of sunlight.

How can I help someone with SAD or help myself if I have SAD?

There are many ways to treat seasonal affective disorder both physically and mentally. Some of these treatments are not for everyone, and some of which should be talked about to your doctor. Some helpful tips for those who have SAD are light therapy, medication, counselling, self-help, and more. Light therapy is when an individual sits near or under a specific type of light for about half an hour a day. Light therapy, as well as medication, should be talked about with your doctor, but is deemed effective for 80%+ of those with SAD who undergo this treatment. Self-help for SAD can consist of regular exercise, balanced thinking, stress management, physical exercise, eating healthy, socialising with other people, and more.

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