Are you feeling SAD?

I mean, are you experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder?

As we all know, the month of March is just around the corner.  The worst of the winter weather is on the verge of being officially over.  Soon, we’ll be readying our gardens and replacing our warms woolies with k-way jackets and shorts.  Ok, I may have dated myself with the k-way reference, but I digress.

For many (me included), the effects of less sunlight, cold snowy weather or endless rainy days have taken their toll.  If you’ve noticed that your mood changes for the worse in the fall and winter months, then you may be suffering from season affective disorder (SAD).

Some of the symptoms of SAD include: needing more sleep than you do in the summer months, and if you are lucky enough to squeeze in more sleep, not reaping such benefits as increased energy.  You may also find that you have bouts of insomnia and are more irritable.  Trust me, if you are noticing that you are a bit more irritable, I bet others have noticed it too!

You may find it difficult to concentrate or tend to be forgetful.  Memory issues are not uncommon when you suffer from SAD. Gaining weight, depression and losing interest in sex are also symptoms to watch out for.

Okay, so while the bad news is that you are feeling down right now, the good news is that summer is around the corner.   Also, while you are in the midst of Mother Nature’s funny joke, there are some things that you can do to help your mood.  Psychotherapy in conjunction with light therapy has been scientifically proven to raise mood and help with sleep issues associated with SAD.

According to a study in 2007 (by Rohan, Roeklein, Tierney, Johnson, Lippy, Lacy and Barton), when 1.5 hours of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was provided either through individual psychotherapy or a group format, and the CBT was coupled with daily light therapy sessions (10000-lux) for 90 minutes/day, there were clinically significant, positive changes noted which reduced the negative symptomatology of seasonal affective disorder.

So, by identifying your personal strengths, limits and the social pressures that are affecting your life, and utilizing something as simple as light therapy, you may lessen the effects of the winter blues.  Becoming active in order to combat the depressive symptoms that come with SAD, is key in preventing the symptoms!

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