As a Canadian, I am supposed to love the winter. At least, that is the stereotype. However, I have never liked winter. In fact, I absolutely hate it. Ice, snow, and cold temperatures just suck the life out of me. My mood always seems low in the winter and even the fun things in life do not resonate to the same degree.
I figured it was just a character quirk until I discovered that some people are indeed negatively affected by particular seasons. This is known as a Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, and it is a fairly common problem. The “Winter Blues” are actually a real thing.
As it is triggered by the changing of seasons, Seasonal Affective Disorder begins and ends at predictable times. That places it in stark contrast to most mental health problems, which rarely have such clear beginning and end dates.
Psychotherapy is a good treatment for SAD, and it can be supplemented by light therapy. One of the reasons people get depressed during the winter is the comparative lack of sunlight and often gloomy conditions. SAD lights help to provide a simulation of what it is like during the sunnier times of the year. This can help to bring up the person’s mood and is easily performed in their home.
While winter seems to be the time of year that the most people have trouble with, SAD can affect your mood in any season. As with anything, this varies from person to person, and can also have an adverse effect on mental health problems an individual already has. For example, someone with bipolar disorder tends to be more manic during the warmer spring and summer seasons, while their depression increases during the fall and winter.
If you think you might be suffering from SAD, make an appointment to see your Doctor for an evaluation.