The third Monday in January is commonly known as Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year.
So what are the “winter blues” and how can one conquer them?
Janel Casey, the head of psychiatry at Royal Columbian Hospital believes there are multiple factors that play a role in seasonal depression.
“I think the winter is a hard time of year for people because of the lack of sunlight, the shorter days [and] the cold weather,” she explained. “Also, January might be a little bit more difficult time for people coming off the high from Christmas [and] having to go back to work and school.”
But the “blues” are quite common, she noted.
“Seasonal affective disorder is really a sub-type of depression that has a seasonal pattern,” Casey explained. “The theory of this is that it is caused by the lack of sunlight, and this maybe creates a hormonal imbalance.”
So how can it be treated?
Self care is important, according to Casey. She recommends a balanced diet, and to avoid hibernating at home during the winter.
It is important to maximize sunlight exposure, even if it just means keeping the curtains open during the day, she said.
Also, Casey recommends a type of light therapy for seasonal depression.
“[It’s] a florescent light box and if you sit in front of it for about 30 minutes every morning then it can also prevent and help treat more of a seasonal pattern depression,” she said.
However, people should recognize when they require professional help.
“Seasonal affective disorder, or season depression, is still a type of depression, so for more serious depression you should definitely see a mental health professional… just don’t want people to take it likely, to recognize it can still be a serious form of depression,” she explained.
Those seeking assistance are encouraged to call the Fraser Health Crisis Line at 604-951-8851.
“We really encourage people to get help, year around… we want people to be aware year-round,” Casey concluded.
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