We are currently in the heart of winter in Canada and some people feel particularly down or depressed. This type of depression is called seasonal affective disorder or SAD and it can affect some people more deeply than others. Sunlight in winter is less intense and lasts less long which could affect the body and mood, and make life difficult for some people.
Blue Monday a marketing tool
Blue Monday was January 18 and is considered by some to be the most depressing day of the year as it is the mid-point of winter and a time when people abandon their New Year’s resolutions and face their bills from Christmas.
Psychologist Laura Armstrong says Blue Monday started out as a marketing tool for travel agents trying to sell vacations and she doesn’t put much stock in it. But she says for those who do feel seasonal depression for more than two weeks, planning a vacation might be a good idea.Listen
Symptoms can affect everyday life
“With seasonal affective disorder, the gloom of winter seems to creep inside some people, with the dark affecting their mood as well as their enjoyment of life…This is a type of depression that usually begins and ends at about the same time every year. And the rest of the year people generally feel okay.
“The main symptoms are low mood most of the day, nearly every day for at least two weeks. Sometimes that can go on much longer. And people might experience irritability, a lot of stress and worry…They may feel tired, have low energy. They might oversleep or have trouble sleeping. They may over or under eat. They might experience low self-esteem or guilt.
“And this can cause some difficulties in their relationships or in their concentration at work. Or they might be experiencing so much distress that it’s affecting their every day life.”
Help is available
When people know they get this every winter, Armstrong says they can plan for it. They may stave off withdrawing from friends by making social engagements in advance. They can plan for coffee breaks with co-workers, get more exercise, or find an enjoyable hobby.
But if symptoms persist, Armstrong says people should get the help of professionals like psychologists or psychotherapists. They may suggest cognitive behavioural therapy or other tools to help the patients cope with their feelings.