As the air cools and the days get shorter, an annual guest gets ready to pay many Canadians an unwanted visit.
The winter blues.
The winter can be a difficult time for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression – especially if they don’t know is how to properly prepare for it.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about 2 to 3% of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime, and another 15% will experience a milder form of SAD.
In honour of World Mental Health Day today, we wanted to highlight some important preparation tips for seasonal depression to help you get ready for the winter blues.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
While it is normal to be a little down during the cold winter months, seasonal affective disorder is much more serious.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that people experience during certain times of the year. It is triggered by a change in seasons and like other forms of depression, it affects every part of an individual’s life, including how they feel and think.
Can mental health affect you physically? Check out our blog on depression and heart disease to learn more.
How to Prepare for Seasonal Depression
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for SAD, the best way to prepare for seasonal depression is to know what to expect so that you can be proactive in managing your condition – or even prevent it altogether.
When Does Seasonal Depression Start?
One of our biggest preparation tips for seasonal depression is to know when it starts.
The most common time for SAD to occur is in the late fall or winter, when the days are shorter and people are stuck indoors more often.
In general, SAD tends to last until spring, but it can vary from person to person.
Understand the Symptoms
Another great way to prepare for seasonal affective disorder is to be aware of its symptoms.
The most common symptoms of SAD include:
- Feelings of sadness
- Feelings of despair
- Feelings of hopelessness
People with SAD may also:
- Have problems sleeping
- Lose interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Feel tired and sluggish all the time
As the winter season approaches, keep track of how you’re feeling day-to-day and make note of any changes. Feelings that last more than 2 weeks typically indicate SAD.
Create a Routine
Having a regular routine can help you feel more in control during times when you may feel more stressed or anxious.
Start to build structure around aspects of your life, such as sleep, exercise, and social activities to help you feel grounded.
Find Out What Stress Management Techniques Work for You
By exploring different relaxation techniques, like journaling, meditation, or deep breathing, you will know exactly what to do to manage stressors during the winter season.
Talk to Your Doctor
Consult your doctor or primary health care provider for ways that you can effectively prepare for SAD.
By implementing these preparation tips for seasonal depression ahead of time, you will be equipped well in advance of the winter months.
Start preparing your mind, body, and spirit by making appropriate changes in the early fall so that you can get in the habit of effectively managing SAD well before you actually need to.
The winter blues is real and if you are feeling nervous or concerned about SAD, know that you are not alone.
In fact, people with seasonal affective disorder make up about 10% of all depression cases.
There is no shame in seeking out support during difficult times. By being proactive with the right preparation tips for seasonal depression, you can manage or even prevent SADs and enjoy the winter season!
Planning a winter event? Don’t forget to rent your AED.