Written by, Jesica Tairoski

On Saturday, February 1st the Markham Community Wellness Group held their first seminar at the Markham Village Library. The seminar was regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how it affects us Canadians during the wintertime.

January and February are the prime months where Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many Canadians. During these months, we typically experience extremely cold weather and an abundance of snow, which can affect our daily schedules and ultimately affect our mood. In this article I will be going over the signs, symptoms and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. All information is sourced from a web article that is referenced at the end.

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. Generally, seasonal affective disorder starts in fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer.

Causes include:

The exact causes of SAD are unknown, but some scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of the year. Some factors that may come into play include:
• Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). Reduced level of sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression
• Serotonin levels. A brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
• Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patters and mood.

SAD usually starts in young adulthood and is more common in women than men. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

* Low energy
* Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
* Changes in appetite or weight
* Oversleeping
* Social withdrawal
* Substance abuse
* Suicidal thoughts or behaviour

Commonly applied treatments include:

* Antidepressant medication
* Most commonly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
* Talk therapy (cognitive behaviour therapy)
* Light Therapy
* Light therapy box that gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. With the right treatment, SAD can be a manageable condition. If you feel the depression is severe or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, consult a doctor immediately or seek help at the closest emergency room.

National Suicide Prevention Line – 800-273-TALK (8255).

At the event, everyone shared their personal thoughts about SAD and what affects them most about the winter season. Most importantly, many people shared what gets them through the season and reminded us to remain a positive outlook and be grateful for what we have!

Checkout our Facebook page for pictures of the event and more details about our group!

Facebook: Markham Community Wellness Group
Instagram: @markhamcommunitywellness

References: Goldberg, J. (2018, April 13). Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/seasonal-affective-disorder#1