Signs and Symptoms of SAD and How to Beat It

The world is constantly changing around us, and being busy students we sometimes only notice the seasons changing by the flavour of the Starbucks drink that we are grabbing on the way to class. However, for some people, the fall and winter months can bring a specific type of moodiness and depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the changing of the seasons. SAD often occurs in the fall and winter; however it can sometimes be seen in the summer months.

One of the most difficult aspects of living with untreated SAD is that by the time the individual has realized there is a problem and tries to seek help, it may have gone away with the return of spring. The symptoms of SAD can range from very mild to severe. Symptoms include: depression, irritability, tiredness, weight gain, moodiness, oversleeping, changed appetite, and craving carbs and sugar.

While the exact causes for SAD aren’t known, experts feel that it is the lack of light that we receive in the winter, particularly in the morning, that takes a toll on our internal clocks. Light therapy is currently the treatment that most doctors recommend, which is when a fluorescent white light behind a diffusing screen is used for approximately thirty minutes everyday. Occasionally, a traditional anti-depressant can be prescribed for a short period of time depending on the seriousness of the case.

There are natural ways to boost your mood although they are not substitutes for proper treatment. Taking a walk, exercising, avoiding caffeine, eating fresh produce and foods like cereal, which slowly release sugar into your system, are all things that help fight off SAD.

An important thing to remember when dealing with SAD is that you aren’t alone. SAD affects six percent of Canadians and many others report feeling some form of the winter blues. .

If you feel that you may be affected by SAD, you should visit your doctor or Health Services