Does the Winter make you SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a sub-type of depression associated with the shorter days during the fall and winter seasons.  SAD may affect up to 1 in 10 Canadians. Although several symptoms of SAD (such as low mood, fatigue, oversleeping, overeating, and a lack of motivation) are similar to the milder ‘Winter Blues’, SAD is a serious disorder that can severely affect an individual’s daily functioning. As we transition into winter, here are reliable sources to help you recognize and understand SAD this season:

  • In this overview on SAD, the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) gives a brief introduction to the disorder and its treatment.
  • In this short video, Dr. Raymond Lam, a UBC- based psychiatrist from the CAN-BIND program, talks about how SAD differs from the ‘Winter Blues’ and the importance of continued treatment for this condition. Dr. Lam also provides useful information on SAD and light therapy.
  • The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario FAQ gives you the What, How, Who and Where on everything you need to know about SAD.
  • This Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) help guide, from the British Columbia division, gives tips on improving health and easing the symptoms of SAD. Province-specific guides are available.

If you have or think you may have SAD, consult your doctor who will be able to assess and guide you through the appropriate treatment. If you are concerned for a family member or friend, please encourage them to contact their doctor.

Editors: Shane McInerney, MSc, MBBS, MRCPsych, Raymond W. Lam, MD, FRCPC.