The Canadian Mental Health Association of B.C. is working to spread the word about the prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the province, and they’re looking for more volunteers heading into winter.
According to the CMHA, official causes are not clear, but it’s thought that because it occurs in winter, it is likely linked to lack of sunlight. However, professionals say that this may not be the whole answer as it’s also thought to run in families: 13 to 17 per cent of people who develop SAD have an immediate family member with the disorder.
As we head into the holiday season, it’s even more important to understand the signs and symptoms, which can include: feeling depressed most of the day, losing interest in activities once enjoyed, low energy, problems with sleeping, changes in appetite or weight, feeling sluggish or agitated, lost interest in sex and other physical contact, difficulty concentrating, feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
Light therapy, medication, counselling or self-help such as good sleep habits, daily exercise and a healthy diet are all known to help treat symptoms.
We ask that you turn up your mental health radar when you are engaging with family, friends and co-workers, as it is often difficult for people to see through the fog of their illness to ask for help in a timely manner.
Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.