Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Neuroscience, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Health, Sensation-Perception, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Even if you like winter (I do not) and you can manage the cold and have winter things you like to do, like skating or skiing, you may find that you have less energy in winter or you may notice other symptoms. For those of us who live at northern latitudes one thing we cannot help but notice is that the days get shorter and shorter. As I write this in Calgary in mid-December the sun is rising at 8:30 and setting at 4:30 giving us just 8 hours of daylight which is less than half of the daylight hours we enjoy in June. Does that affect people? Well, you have probably heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is more prevalent in the winter months and especially so at northern latitudes such as we live at in Canada. We sometimes hear people talking about winter blues among those who do not like what winter brings in the way of lower temperatures, winter weather, and less light but, more than winter blues SAD IS depression. One way to better understand the distinction is to gather and reflect upon the personal accounts of people who deal with SAD in their winter months. Think for a moment about what such accounts might include and then have a read through the article linked below which could be seen as the early steps in a qualitative study of the impact of SAD on peoples’ winter lives.

Source: ‘Better Off Hibernating’: What It’s Really Like to Live With Seasonal Depression, Kyli Rodriquez-Cayro, The Huffington Post.

Date: December 1, 2022

Image by qimono from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did the collected accounts of the people who contributed their stories to the linked article help you to see distinctions between winter blues and SAD. Did it occur to you that we used to diminish the experiences of new mothers by labelling their experiences with post-partum depression (another version of real depression) and baby blues? All things to think about as you track your own mood states this winter and those of the people around you. Help IS available. There is good research support for the efficacy of light therapy and cognitive behavior therapy alone and in combination (see the References – Read Further section below).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are winter blues and how are they related to SAD?
  2. How is SAD related to clinical or major depression?
  3. What sorts of research could/should be done to better understand SAD and to make it more likely that those who encounter it will be provided appropriate support and assistance?

References (Read Further):

Canadian Psychological Association (2020) “Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Seasonal Affective Disorder (Depression with Seasonal Pattern). Link

Roecklein, K. A., Rohan, K. J., & Postolache, T. T. SADIs seasonal. Current Psychiatry, 9(2), 43. Link

Nussbaumer, B., Kaminski‐Hartenthaler, A., Forneris, C. A., Morgan, L. C., Sonis, J. H., Gaynes, B. N., … & Gartlehner, G. (2015). Light therapy for preventing seasonal affective disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11). Link

Rohan, K. J., Roecklein, K. A., Tierney Lindsey, K., Johnson, L. G., Lippy, R. D., Lacy, T. J., & Barton, F. B. (2007). A randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy, light therapy, and their combination for seasonal affective disorder. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 75(3), 489. Summary

Rohan, K. J., Lindsey, K. T., Roecklein, K. A., & Lacy, T. J. (2004). Cognitive-behavioral therapy, light therapy, and their combination in treating seasonal affective disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 80(2-3), 273-283. Link

Rohan, K. J., Meyerhoff, J., Ho, S. Y., Evans, M., Postolache, T. T., & Vacek, P. M. (2016). Outcomes one and two winters following cognitive-behavioral therapy or light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(3), 244-251. Link

Meyerhoff, J., & Rohan, K. J. (2016). Treatment expectations for cognitive-behavioral therapy and light therapy for seasonal affective disorder: Change across treatment and relation to outcome. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 84(10), 898. Link