What Is Season Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

What Is Season Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

During these cold months, it’s common for Canadians to avoid the harsh weather and to spend most days inside the comfort of their home or office. However, for many people the winter months bring about seasonal depression, often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD occurs around the same time every year, usually beginning in late fall and continuing until spring or summer. Generally people living in higher latitudes report experiencing SAD, particularly because these regions experience shorter days with less sunlight. As a result, the biological clock that controls sleep, hormones, and mood can run more slowly in the winter and thereby spur seasonal depression in certain people. Common Effects of SAD It can be difficult to determine whether one suffers from SAD since symptoms are often very similar to those of depression or bipolar. When a doctor is determining whether a patient has SAD, they’re looking for consistency in the timing that depression hits every year. Generally, people who experience SAD report:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue and increased need for sleep
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased energy level
  • Increase in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Desire to be alone

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, between 2% and 3% of people living in Ontario might have SAD while another 15% “have a less severe experience described as the winter blues.” SAD typically affects people over the age of 20 and the condition is more common in women than men.

Overcoming SAD There are several things that people with SAD can do to overcome it and get back to their regular routine. First, exercise is imperative as it builds energy, rids off stress, and increases your overall well-being. Try to exercise at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. If possible, exercise outside during daylight hours, even if that means taking a quick walk around the block during your lunch break. Decreased exposure to sunlight is the primary cause of SAD so one of the best ways to counter it is by spending more time outside. Ultimately, incorporating physical activity into your daily schedule, especially outdoor activity, is an imperative component of overcoming this depression. In conjunction with exercising regularly, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is important for ensuring that your body receives all the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep you alert and energized.

Light therapy is another popular practice for people with SAD. During light therapy, individuals sit in front of a special florescent light for about 20 minutes a day, perhaps while they’re reading or eating. While this therapy works for the majority of people, a health care professional should be consulted first.

Finally, try to spend as much time with family, friends, or pets. Maintaining your regular schedule and being involved with your social circle is an important part component of being happy and lifting your spirits. If you’re experiencing an injury or illness and you can’t leave the house, companion or respite care is a viable option for enjoying time with another person. Ultimately, if you want to overcome SAD, don’t be stagnant – spend time with people, get outside, exercise and eat healthy.

Home Healthcare Agency can help you find more time to look after your personal goals while you can be rest assured that your elderly is being looked after by the right companions and nurses. Looking to hire a Senior Caregiver Services in Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and Milton area? Call us, we are happy to explore how we can help you and your loved ones.


Kim is the owner of Lakeside Natural Therapies, specializing in Nutrition & Reiki. If you have questions for Kim feel free to contact her at Kim@icarehomehealth.ca