As the temperature drops and the days become shorter, it has become more of a struggle for me to get going in the mornings. I’ve also noticed the energy around me; that of my patients and the office, beginning to lag.
Why does the summer buzz suddenly fizzle with the approach of winter?
Though it is experienced by many, the cause of “winter blues” and SAD is not clear, there seems to be a relationship between sun exposure, our biological clocks and the neurotransmitters (chemical signals) in our brains. Studies show that for 15% of SAD sufferers, bright-light therapy is beneficial supporting the idea that SAD may be linked to sun exposure or the lack thereof.
The winter blues can be defined as general low mood experienced during the fall and winter season. Though it may cause discomfort, it does not interfere with daily activities. SAD, is a more severe form of the winter blues and can be a debilitating condition affecting one’s personal and professional life.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 15% of Canadians experience the winter blues, while 2-3% of Canadians suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Typically SAD is more likely to develop in people over 20, is more common in Northern countries, affects more women than men, and is a greater risk for those who work shift work and for people living in urban centres where exposure to natural light is reduced.
Symptoms of SAD include, but are not limited to:
- decreased energy & fatigue
- hypersomnia (tendency to oversleep)
- difficulty concentrating
- change in appetite
- craving for sweet or starchy foods
- weight gain
- avoidance of social situations
- feelings of anxiety and despair
If you or anyone you know may be experiencing the symptoms above follow my blog next week to learn about ways to improve sleep and mood during the winter season.
If you can’t wait to learn about natural solutions to beating the winter blues, or you’d like to meet one on one for a free 15 minute naturopathic consultation, call (416) 281- 0640.