Click to Know What’s Above and Below

Are You S.A.D?

Print this Article | Send to Colleague

By Natasha Hunter

Seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D) majorly affects 2-3 per cent of Canadians each year and up to 15 per cent of Canadians on an annual basis. Do you know what S.A.D. is and whether you’re experiencing it?

S.A.D. is a type of depression that is related to the seasons. People are “happy, sunny” creatures and when we enter winter and the days are short, sunlight limited, and temperatures drop, us humans can experience S.A.D. S.A.D. is classified as a mental health issue and is not (as many people wrongly assume) just a passing phase, in fact, it’s quite common for Canadians of all backgrounds to be afflicted.

If you feel lethargic, down or just overall "blah" during the winter months it may not just be “the winter blues” and it may be prudent to take steps to help negate the effects of S.A.D. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish.
  • Having problems with sleeping too much.
  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain.
  • Having difficulty concentrating.
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty.
  • Feeling listless, sad or down most of the day, nearly every day. 
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live.

Some people will tell you that all you need is a vacation. That may be true for some folks (I mean who DOESN’T want to hang out on the beaches of Tahiti? That would improve my mindset any time of year!) but often, S.A.D. will persist until the cold months are over.

Well, what can we do? Sure, we can wait until winter is over, but no one wants to feel like this for four to six months of the year. So, here are some tips on dealing with S.A.D.

Since S.A.D. is classified as a mental disorder, usual methods of dealing with depression seem to be effective, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and medication, but there are other options which may help reduce the consequences of this horrible condition. 

Light Therapy
Get as much sunlight as possible. It’s very hard to do in winter here in Canada but if you can take 15 minutes to go for a stroll at lunch, sit in a sunny park, take the dog for a walk or relax in a sunny window, the benefits can be immense. If you live somewhere that makes it impossible to actually get outside, research local tanning salons, indoor pools or even therapists with access to UV machines. 

Regular Exercise
Once again, this can be a little difficult in the winter months in Canada but if you can find an exercise that works for you indoors this can be a huge deterrent to S.A.D. If outdoor winter sports don’t interest you (much like me, ew…skiing? I‘d be lucky to not break a bone!), check out your local pools, walking clubs or even group sports like dodgeball or pickleball. The endorphins released during physical activity help negate the negative aspects the winter months have on our brains.

Healthy Diet
Fruits and vegetables help maintain the hormonal balance in the brain that can combat feelings of depression. As we all know, it’s hard and expensive these days to eat fresh produce, especially in the winter months in the Great White North, but canned and frozen options work as well. It may take more effort and creativity to make these choices palatable but, in the end, it’s worth the effort. 

While seasonal affective disorder tends to hit Northerners more than most, there are treatment options, and you are not alone. Utility Safety Partners is committed to ensuring our staff, members and excavators are working and living as safely as possible. If you need help, please reach out to your local health care provider.



Back to Click to Know What’s Above and Below