Ever wonder why you feel a little less lively and lack energy in the winter months? Maybe even feel a bit “blah”?
Many people experience a shift in mood, energy and sleep patterns as the seasons change. Living in Canada, we simply don’t get as many hours of daylight as we should in the winter, and it is believed this affects mood in some people. For many, the symptoms are mild. You may feel less energetic, more fatigued and perhaps a little irritable. You may experience food cravings and this can lead to weight gain, and you may not sleep as well. If so, it’s important to focus on maintaining healthy habits. Getting outside for some fresh air, sunlight and activity can make you feel better. Do your best not to give into those food cravings and reach for healthy alternatives instead. You might also want to talk to your doctor to see if light therapy can help.
Seasonal affective disorder
For some people, these feelings of sadness are more intense, interfering with daily activities. This is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that often happens in late fall and through the winter (although it can appear in spring and summer). The symptoms are similar to those of other types of depression, although not everyone will have the same symptoms. You may:
- Feel anxious, hopeless, worthless, helpless, irritable, restless or sad.
- Have less energy and experience changes in how you sleep.
- Not be interested in activities you normally enjoy.
- Experience weight gain or increased appetite.
- Find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions.
- Have thoughts of death or suicide.
Light therapy is one possible treatment for SAD, but some people do not respond to light therapy alone. Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants and refer you for counselling.
Remember, everyone has days when they feel a little down. If your down days start to outnumber the days you feel good, see your doctor.
References and Resources:
Canadian Mental Health Association (cmha.ca)
My Health Alberta (myhealth.alberta.ca)