Joe Vergnetti shows various S.A.D. therapy lights sold by Lake Otis Medical Supply in Anchorage. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and the less severe winter blues start in late fall or early winter. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

How to beat the Vancouver Island winter blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect two to three per cent of the population

It’s dark when you go to work and it’s dark when you go home. Let’s be honest, that can get pretty depressing pretty fast.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), beating the winter blues just takes some planning.

Jocelyn Demontmorency works with the British Columbia division of the CMHA and says if you can make a plan to get yourself out during the short hours of sun, it’ll make you feel a lot better.

According to Demontmorency the winter blues are a more mild form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that about two to three per cent of the population is diagnosed with. SAD has to do with the change in the seasons and the reduction of sunlight when the days start getting shorter.

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“It’s a good week to be doing this story because the weather has been gross,” she says, although that doesn’t stop her from getting out to walk.

She says if you can make time to spend outside, even in the dark, that’ll help with beating the blues too. Symptoms of SAD include feeling lethargic, staying indoors and isolating behavior which can lead to feelings of hopelessness.

Demontmorency says getting a handle on your symptoms right away is best, but if the feelings persist to go see your family doctor or mental health provider.

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“It’s really common in January, right after Christmas when the bills start coming in, the weather’s crummy and you may have put on a few pounds,” she says.

She recommends implementing some kind of physical activity into daily life, connecting with friends and family, eat healthily and maybe even take up a new hobby as ways of beating the blues.

If all else fails, get your self a happy lamp, which is a special kind of intense artificial light that can cause a chemical change in the brain that improves your mood and helps relieve SAD symptoms.

Another tip Demontmorency offers is moving around the furniture in your home so that you can sit in the sun while it’s shining or making a habit of taking a daily noon-hour walk.

For more information on how to mitigate SAD symptoms visit cmha.bc.ca/documents/seasonal-affective-disorder-2.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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