When the days get shorter and the skies are grey, it can make many people feel down.
Others may even fall into depression commonly known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna communications manager Jessica Samuels said this period of seasonal depression can start from the beginning of fall and well into spring.
She said experts are fairly confident that SAD is triggered by the lack of light during the colder months, but studies are still trying to find out the exact cause of it.
In any case, Samuels said winter blues are real and can be managed by sleeping well, eating healthy, and monitoring alcohol intake.
“These won’t solve all the problems but if you’re not supporting your body to support your mental health, feeling better just won’t happen,” she said.
“One of the things people find difficult to do right now is getting outside… but getting outside or getting near some light is a way to help manage our mood and has been identified as a way to support SAD.”
Months of experiencing SAD can also make people feel like a January Monday could be particularly down. When people speak of Blue Monday, Samuels said they may mean they’re experiencing SAD.
Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, is an enduring urban myth that states it is the saddest day in the month.
“We always say that Blue Monday is not a thing. It’s not a thing in that there’s one day where you can say ‘this is the most depressing day of the year’,” she said.
“The idea comes from seasonal affective disorder, the low light in the colder months, and being unable to participate in activities.”
As important as it is to recognize that SAD is a real and manageable thing, Samuels emphasized that it’s important not to self-diagnose and to consult your family physician to get the proper help you need.
“You can have low mood or even be depressed during this time of the year, but it could be another form of depression stemming from something else.”
“If you’re feeling tired all the time, you’re not eating properly and you don’t want to connect with others, speak to your doctor because they can help identify if it’s SAD and the best ways to address and treat it.
“Because there may be some other elements such as counselling or medication that may be right for you.”
To learn more about SAD, how to manage it, as well as how to take care of your overall mental well-being, visit CMHA Kelowna’s website for resources.