Premature winter in Alberta

Winter comes early in Calgary

We got an incredible amount of snowfall in Calgary last week, and this instigated conversations I’ve been having with people about how weather can be a trigger for depressive symptoms, which we call Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s now known as major depressive disorder with a seasonal onset.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

With Seasonal Affective Disorder, you essentially have the same symptoms that you’d have with depression. You feel subjectively depressed. You have a change in your eating patterns, a change in sleep, negative ruminations, hopelessness, and feelings of helplessness. However, the onset is with change in season. It’s more common in countries like Norway, Sweden, and Canada where there is a dramatic shift and harsh winter.

Nicholson frozen in the shining

Treatments for this disorder

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the treatments are essentially the same as with depression, except that you can use what’s called bright light therapy. Here, you’re staring at a bright light that’s medically prescribed and the illumination can help make you feel better.

The other treatment that works, and we’re always promoting this, is called Behavioural Activation, which includes exercise as a key component. Exercise can be crucially important to treating Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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