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5 tips to fight seasonal depression

Someone standing by a body of water in winter timeBy Vanessa Racine, social medias coordinator

How are you doing? The last months have been trying for many of us, and there’s every indication that this stressful time is not over yet. With winter at our doorstep, are you among many people who are feeling low on enthusiasm and energy? If so, you may be suffering from seasonal depression.

Here are some tips to keep your spirits up during these difficult times.
 

Winter is a challenge for some


When you live in a northern climate, it can be difficult to adjust to the typical wintertime changes in weather. For instance, people who are more sensitive to chilly temperatures are often reluctant to venture outside. Moreover, the cold can exacerbate certain health problems, such as asthma, skin conditions, and some cardiovascular, circulatory and eye problems.
 
One common winter ailment is seasonal depression, which is also known as “seasonal affective disorder” or the “winter blues”.
 

The winter blues are real


Seasonal depression is more common than you might think. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, an estimated 2 to 10% of Canadians are affected. It’s more likely to occur in women than men and is more often seen in young adults. The symptoms are varied and include fatigue, an excessive need for sleep, increased appetite, and impaired memory and concentration.
 
It’s often difficult to distinguish between seasonal depression and major depression because they manifest so similarly. The seasonal nature of the symptoms is what really sets them apart. It’s a disorder that is characterized by depressive episodes in the fall and winter, and symptoms that stabilize in the spring and summer.
 
To varying degrees, all of us are affected by the lack of light that results from fewer daylight hours. A lack of enthusiasm or energy, increased fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and changes in appetite can be telltale signs. An estimated 18% of Canadians are affected by the lack of sunlight in the winter.
 
If you think you may have symptoms of seasonal depression, talk to your doctor for a diagnosis.
 

Solutions


Here are some tips to keep you feeling cheerful and increase your energy levels as the days get shorter.
 

  • Eat healthy. It’s tough to be on top of your game if you aren’t giving your body nutrients that can provide the most energy and vitamins.
  • Get moving. Physical activity releases endorphins and activates neurotransmitters that are associated with feelings of wellbeing and pleasure. Additionally, outdoor activities oxygenate your body and get you out in the sunshine.
  • Go outdoors often and dress warmly. Take advantage of sunny days to venture outside!
  • Soak up some sun… inside your home! Let sunshine in as often as possible (open the curtains wide) and sit near a window.
  • Talk to a health professional if you think you have seasonal depression or are affected by the lack of light. They can present the various solutions that are available to you.

 
For more tips, visit our mental health and wellbeing resources page and register for our online psychological first aid courses.
 
Have a happy and healthy winter!
 
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