Seasonal Affective Disorder & COVID-19
With COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns this year, mental health concerns are on the rise. To add to this, with the winter months fast approaching, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) presents many Canadians with an added challenge. SAD is a form of depression that impacts people during the colder season (typically late fall through the winter), when there is less sunlight. SAD is thought to be caused by the effect of changes in sunlight on the body’s circadian rhythm, governed by neurochemicals such as serotonin and melatonin. It is possible that those with SAD will experience more severe symptoms than normal this year, as less time is spent outside (therefore less time spent in the sunshine) due to COVID-19.
Some strategies that could be implemented to cope with SAD during the pandemic (although it is always advised to check with an HCP) include healthy eating, exercising regularly, creating a schedule/to-do list, and trying to get as much light as possible (whether that be from going outside or using a SAD lamp). However, one of the most important things we can do during these tough times is support those with SAD and/or any other mental health diagnosis. If you have a family member or friend with SAD, don’t forget to check in on them, it can make a world of a difference!