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Psychotherapy for winter blues?!
This is turning out to be one of the nastiest winters we have seen in a long time in Toronto. Cold weather and dark skies often affect people’s moods. In fact, many people notice that their moods improve on a sunny day and that they feel lethargic or down when it’s cold and miserable outside. And some people are vulnerable to a type of clinical depression that follows a seasonal pattern. Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a psychological diagnosis that describes a clinical depression that begins at the end of Fall as days get shorter and lifts during the Spring when the weather improves. Some people experience “winter blues”, which is a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder and is generally not incapacitating. In its true form, Seasonal Affective Disorder can result in considerable impairment in functioning.
What are the signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder? Individuals with SAD often reportincreased appetite and food cravings (for carbohydrates primarily), weight gain, low energy, fatigue, a tendency to sleep too much, irritability, trouble concentrating, social withdrawal, loss of pleasure and interest in previously enjoyed activities, low mood, sadness, and anxiety.
The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is not known, but researchers suspect that seasonal variations in light affect circadian rhythms (your brain’s internal biological clock) and neurotransmitter activity.
How is Seasonal Affective Disorder treated? There are a number of effective treatments for SAD. Some individuals benefit from Light Therapy, which involves exposure to bright artificial light. Exercise, proper diet, and monitoring your sleep are all good ideas. Some people report benefiting from anti-depressant medication. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy or other forms of psychotherapy with a psychologist is also likely to be helpful.Tags: depression, psychologist, Seasonal Affective Disorder