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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Combating Seasonal Depression

November 22, 2022

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

The onset of seasonal affective disorder is often associated with the approach of autumn due to seasonal changes (SAD). It's natural to have some mild depression during the winter months since the days become shorter sooner, you spend more time inside, and your body is given fewer opportunities to absorb vitamin D.  Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in contrast, to the comparatively mild winter blues, affects your day-to-day life, including how you feel and think.

Signs & Symptoms

SAD symptoms are similar to severe depression in terms of signs and symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of SAD come on and go off at about the same time every year.

 Symptoms of major depression may include:

  • Alterations in appetite and weight, as well as sleep issues, may also be present.
  • Apathy or feeling slowed down
  • Irritation & weariness
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering, and making choices
  • Lack of interest in jobs, hobbies, and people
  • Withdrawal from family members and friends
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, incredibly guilty, gloomy, or having low self-esteem
  • Having suicidal thoughts

Along with major depressive symptoms, SAD also has several unique symptoms that are different for winter-pattern and summer-pattern SAD. All of the symptoms mentioned may not be present in every SAD individual.

Symptoms of winter-pattern SAD may include:

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia) (hypersomnia)
  • Overeating, especially when wanting carbs
  • Gain in weight
  • Social disengagement (a sense of "hibernation")

Symptoms of summer-pattern SAD may include:

  • Sleeping problems (insomnia)
  • Weight loss due to a lack of appetite
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • occurrences of aggressive conduct

Combatting SAD:

Talk to your Doctor

Since seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression, you will need to seek the advice of a mental health expert to acquire an appropriate diagnosis. Several screening questions may be asked of an individual to determine whether or not they are depressed. The following are some instances of various courses of treatment, as well as ways in which your physician may be able to support you and steer you on the appropriate path.

Consider taking antidepressants

Antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be used. SAD, like other types of depression, is associated with abnormalities in serotonin function. These drugs have a significant positive impact on patients' moods. Please be advised: Consult with your healthcare providers before starting any treatment or medications.

Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D nutritional supplements may help alleviate the symptoms of SAD patients, who frequently lack this vitamin.

Try Light Therapy

A longstanding treatment for SAD has been light therapy. It attempts to make up for the reduced natural sunshine during the darker months by exposing those with SAD to bright light daily.

Stick to a schedule

Sleeping at night and getting out of bed in the morning may be challenging for many people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One of the benefits of sticking to a routine is that improved sleep quality has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Keeping a regular schedule will guarantee that you are exposed to light regularly, keeping you from going into hibernation. In addition, maintaining a consistent eating routine might help prevent undereating and overeating. It's possible that maintaining a healthy work-life balance, together with these other variables, can help you get the amount of sleep you need, feel less stressed, and have fewer symptoms.

Prioritize social activities

One of the best ways to fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is to keep yourself busy with things you like throughout the winter. Taking preventative measures is the best strategy. Research has revealed a correlation between depression and social isolation; thus, participation in social activities is essential for people who suffer from SAD. In addition, staying active and moving about helps fight off symptoms of SAD.

Let the sunshine in

Spend as much time as you can outdoors throughout the day to take advantage of the sunshine that is still available. This will help you avoid experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). On crisp winter days, when the light is at its most flattering around noon or soon after, take a walk around the neighbourhood. In addition, when you are inside your home, you should leave the blinds open to enable the most amount of natural light possible into the space. If you work from home, having a workplace close to a window or another source of natural light is beneficial.

Overall, visit your healthcare practitioner if you are concerned that you may be experiencing signs of seasonal depression. Your doctor will want to exclude as many potential causes of these symptoms as possible, including the chance that another illness or condition causes them. In addition, there are preventative actions that you can take to combat the symptoms of depression. These actions include making minor adjustments to your lifestyle, such as eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, getting adequate sleep, socializing and getting out, and getting help as soon as possible.