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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Changes in the season can greatly affect people's mental health. The shortening days and darker weather can affect energy levels, sleeping patterns, and eating habits. About 2-6% of Canadians will experience S.A.D. in their lifetimes. This is a mood disorder that is characterized by clinical depression that is linked to seasonal changes (most commonly in the winter).

S.A.D. Risks and Triggers

Psychological, biological, and environmental factors all contribute to an individual's risk of having S.A.D. A few of these include:

  • Light deprivation
  • High Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Less physical activity
  • Biological predisposition
  • Poor diet

S.A.D. Symptoms

Several symptoms that indicate an individual may be experiencing S.A.D. include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Low energy
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression across two consecutive winters
  • Alternating non-depressed periods in the spring/summer

Treatments and Solutions

There are a number of solutions that have proven effective for alleviating symptoms of S.A.D.
A few of these include:

1. Eating Right & Getting Your Vitamins

Taking a multivitamin is an easy way to ensure you are reaching your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals even in the winter seasons when we find ourselves reaching for less fresh fruits and vegetables. Try DR-HO'S Essential Multivitamin to get over 40 of your daily recommended vitamins in one serving.

2. Cleansing Your Digestive System

Cleansing the digestive system is the new spring cleaning. Low-energy symptoms can lead to a cycle of poor sleep, bad eating habits, oversleeping, and unstable moods. Boosting energy at its source can stop the cycle of negative lifestyle habits before it begins. Try DR-HO'S 30-Day Cleanse to reset your eating habits.

3. Light Therapy

Light therapy involves exposure to bright lights in daily sessions of about 15-30 minutes. This therapy has been found to have an anti-depressant effect in 70% of people with S.A.D. in as little as two weeks of treatments.

4. Massage

Attending regular massage therapy sessions in the winter seasons has also proven to alleviate symptoms of S.A.D. Other exercises such as yoga, Pilates, or strength training are alternative holistic ways to find relief of depressive symptoms.

5. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy addresses personal difficulties and mood disorders. It allows an individual, family, or couple, to talk openly and confidentially about their concerns and feelings with a trained professional. Almost all types of psychotherapy involve developing a therapeutic relationship, communicating and creating a dialogue, and working to overcome problematic thoughts, feelings or behaviours.

6. Antidepressants

If symptoms persist it is possible that seasonal depression could actually be clinical depression. Talk to your doctor for a diagnosis and you could be prescribed antidepressants to help alleviate symptoms. It is generally recommended that an individual address their sleeping habits, diet, exercise routine, and mental dialogue before turning to medication.

Feel Better and Live Better

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference on an individual's mental health. Before resorting to medication it is important that you address all of your immediate needs like your diet, sleep schedule, physical activity, light exposure, and cognitive behaviours. For some people, suffering from mental health disorders can interfere with their ability to take care of themselves. In these cases it is important to speak to a doctor, psychiatrist, or other health professional to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.

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(2016). "What is Psychotherapy?" Ontario Society of Psychotherapists. http://www.psychotherapyontario.org/what-is-psychotherapy

(2016). "Frequently Asked Questions - Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)" Mood Disorder Association of Ontario. https://www.mooddisorders.ca/faq/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad

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