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Description: Have you heard the phrase “We The North?” It was associated with the enjoyable run of the Toronto Raptors to the successfully through the NBA championships in 2019. Despite having a great basketball team, however, there are some challenges associated with living in the north. Throughout much of Canada in the winter it is cold, and it is dark for much of the day. That this has consequences for wellness could be reflected in the fact that over 70% of Canadians live below the 49th parallel which is often noted as being on or near out southern border. Given this Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that could be well known to Canadians. Especially if you ARE Canadian, or a north-person of any sort (a Viking perhaps?), think for a minute about what you know about the potential impact of SAD on you throughout the fall and winter months (or at other times of the year) and about what you do or should be aware of in the ways of means for coping with this possible winter impact. Once you have completed your mental inventory of this topic read through the article linked below for a brief overview of these issues (and through some of the articles in the Read Further section further below if you would like more to chew on in your dark cold winter).

Source: An Ottawa psychologist on managing seasonal affective disorder, Moira Wilson, Fulcrum.

Date: February 2, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, were there tidbits of information about SADs in the linked article that you were not aware of? If you live well north of the equator it is worthwhile to reflect on the impacts that light and weather patterns associated with winter have on our health and wellbeing. I have posted about the circadian implications of northing living previously. Perhaps you noted that you already make some good and perhaps adjustments to you living patterns in winter. These might include ensuring you are getting regular exercise, carefully managing your sleep routines (blue screen exposure etc.). But what about things like high-fat winter comfort food which was shown to not be good for cognitive and emotional wellbeing in mice and which may also be true with us humans? If you live in the North it would be advisable to spend a bit of time looking into the possible impact that winter has on you and perhaps consider making a few adjustments, like getting g a light therapy light. Oh, and enjoy the Raptors! They provide some winter respite.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is SAD?
  2. Why does SAD seem to be linked to winter (other than that those of us who do not ski have less to do in winter)?
  3. What sorts of things should we consider doing in order to manage our possible exposure to impacts of SAD?

References (Read Further):

Sleep Foundation, Sleep Hygiene.

Rosenthal, N. E., Sack, D. A., Gillin, J. C., Lewy, A. J., Goodwin, F. K., Davenport, Y., … & Wehr, T. A. (1984). Seasonal affective disorder: a description of the syndrome and preliminary findings with light therapy. Archives of general psychiatry, 41(1), 72-80.

Geoffroy, P. A., Schroder, C. M., Reynaud, E., & Bourgin, P. (2019). Efficacy of light therapy versus antidepressant drugs, and of the combination versus monotherapy, in major depressive episodes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep medicine reviews, 101213. Link

Wirz‐Justice, A., & Benedetti, F. (2019). Perspectives in affective disorders: Clocks and sleep. European Journal of Neuroscience.

McGrath-Hanna, N. K., Greene, D. M., Tavernier, R. J., & Bult-Ito, A. (2003). Diet and mental health in the Arctic: is diet an important risk factor for mental health in circumpolar peoples?-a review. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 62(3), 228-241.

Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: an overview of assessment and treatment approaches. Depression research and treatment, 2015.

Kräuchi, K., Reich, S., & Wirz-Justice, A. (1997). Eating style in seasonal affective disorder: who will gain weight in winter?. Comprehensive psychiatry, 38(2), 80-87.

Roecklein, K. A., & Rohan, K. J. (2005). Seasonal affective disorder: an overview and update. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 2(1), 20.