Winter blues could be Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Bryan Eneas
January 15, 2018 - 5:00pm

Blue Monday is the day we figure out how much we overspent on Christmas, when we realize we’re behind on New Year’s resolutions or when we realize the weather isn’t going to get better for months.

Seasonal Affective Disorder could also play a role in the lower moods. The disorder is recognized as a form of depression which is related to the changing seasons.

While there are a few cases of the disorder affecting people in the spring or summer months, a majority of people who suffer experience symptoms in the fall and winter. For those who feel they may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are supports in the Gateway to the North.

“First, go to your doctor if you’re looking for forms of treatment,” Rosalie Meyer, the walk-in and intake coordinator for mental health outpatient services, said. “If you don’t think it’s that severe, there are those lightboxes you can buy that simulate sunshine.”

She said doctors will assess depression through a series of scales. If the doctor feels it’s necessary to call in further mental health expertise those calls will be made. Doctors can refer to a psychiatrist if necessary. Medication can also be discussed with patients.

Getting away from Seasonal Affective Disorder may not be as complicated for some; Meyer said people combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by taking a vacation to get more sunlight.

There are also support groups for those who suffer from anxiety and depression in the city for people who can’t get away from winter. Meyer said the groups help people understand and address their symptoms.

“All they need to do is contact us. It’s continuous intake, every week we could have new people,” Meyer said, adding in the past, there has been two groups to make space for interest in the programs.

The support groups are open for people between the ages of 18 to 84. For youth, a program called Mixed Emotions exists to support children between the ages of eight to 18 who suffer from anxiety or depression. 

Sask. Polytech supports students

The Saskatchewan Polytechnic campuses in Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are also readily equipped to support students affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Debra Kemp-Koo, the manager of accesibility services and the interim director of student development with Sask. Polytech, said the institution is seeking to smash barriers and stigmas about mental health — Seasonal Affective Disorder included.

“Our primary goal at Saskatchewan Polytechnic is taking care of our students and ensuring they have the support they need to be successful,” Kemp-Koo said. “Support services are available at all four of our campuses and includes counselling, accessibility, health, Indigenous centers, recreation and inter-cultural services.”

Kemp-Koo said while there are the resources available to help students impacted by SAD, students are always directed to speak with their doctors as well.

Sask. Polytech is “opening the conversation” around not just SAD, but around mental wellness as well according to Kemp-Koo. Campuses host a Mental Wellness Day, where students can learn more about the services and supports offered at school; Kemp-Koo said seasonal affective disorder is discussed as well.


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On Twitter: @BryanEneas

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