As Canadians, we are no stranger to cold and dark weather and you may be among many who feel a lowered mood at this time of the year. The extent of the lowered mood can greatly vary: about two to three percent of Ontarians experience a form of called “seasonal affective disorder (SAD);” and 15% of Ontarians experience a lower-grade level of reduced mood known as the “winter blues.”
The cause of seasonal affective disorder
The cause of SAD is not completely clear, however it is thought to relate to the reduced exposure to light which happens in the late fall and winter months (October to April). This has been shown to have an impact on our hormone levels in the body, which may lead to changes in mood.
Symptoms of SAD
- Low energy
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Poor focus/concentration
- Sadness, anxiety, despair
- Changes in appetite, eg: sweet and starch cravings
- Weight gain
- Headaches and irritability
- Increased sleep
- Children may experience difficulty getting out of bed, irritability and problems in school
Treatment for SAD
- Daily outdoor activity and exercise
- Light therapy – home light exposure units (‘light boxes’) are available and usually help within a few days of use.
- Anti-depressant medications
Note that medications may take some time to take effect, so it is ideal to plan ahead with your physician and pharmacist. There is good hope for improvement in your symptoms and there are many treatment options that can effectively support your mood in the fall and winter months.
For helpful advice and assistance with your health, contact Lane Family Pharmasave at 705-746-2187, or toll-free at 1-800-661-6106, or visit www.lanefamilypharmacy.com.