Feeling SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. Most often affecting people in the fall through spring months, it can have a profound effect on a person’s mood and energy levels.

update SAD infographic 1

In Canada, SAD affects about three per cent of Canadians each year.

Often, this disorder affects children and teenagers, with women at greater risk. Additionally, people with a history of depression in their family have a higher risk of experiencing SAD in their lifetime.

What can you do?

Those affected by SAD may feel like isolating themselves until a change in seasons occurs, but there are ways to minimize its symptoms.

Meet with a healthcare practitioner. SAD is a treatable disorder, and a qualified healthcare practitioner can help identify ideal treatment options. Healthcare practitioners can provide resources to build resilience prior to months when SAD is at its peak:

  • Light therapy. When using light therapy, 60 to 80 per cent of those who suffer from SAD see an improvement. Sitting for 30 minutes in front of a special fluorescent light that simulates natural outdoor light can help improve an individual’s mood and energy levels. 
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy. This form of therapy works to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. It can be used in conjunction with light therapy and, according to some, is the most effective way of treating the disorder.
  • Self-help. People who regularly exercise, have good sleeping habits, eat a healthy diet and stay connected with others have improved moods during SAD months. Working toward a more balanced lifestyle can help manage stress and reduce the symptoms of depression.

  • Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Find Help Now. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/seasonal-affective-disorder-2/
  • Mayo Clinic. (2017, October 25). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Retrieved November 21, 2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
  • Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions - Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Retrieved November 21, 2017, from https://www.mooddisorders.ca/faq/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad
  • Rohan, K. J., & Rough, J. N. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Mood Disorders. Retrieved from https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-mood-disorders-9780199973965?cc=ca&lang=en&#

Contribute to The Vital Beat

Have a story to share about health care? An idea for an article? We value all contributions.

Submit an idea