By: Elizabeth Iwunwa

It is that time of the year when the sun hides and temperatures drop. Although some may welcome this period as a time to cozy up, others might not have such a swell time.

Some individuals are plagued by the winter blues, a mild form of what is known as Seasonal Depression aka Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Although this condition has existed for over a hundred years, it was not qualified as a disorder until the early 1980’s.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, “SAD can be a debilitating condition, preventing sufferers from functioning normally”.

At the moment, there is no confirmed cause. However, Seasonal Depression may be linked to seasonal changes in the amount of sunlight available. Symptoms include irritability, low energy, oversleeping, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain.

These symptoms can be conflated with other phenomena but are prevalent in about 2 to 6% of the Canadian population.

Academic life requires a reservoir of energy and with this disorder, it may be difficult to muster up the motivation for the rigors of school work. Here are a few ways to bust the blues this semester.

  • Light Therapy

This has been shown to alleviate some symptoms of the disorder. It is advisable to consult a doctor before and while undergoing this treatment. Some individuals also find having bright light helpful. Exposure to optimum amounts of sunlight is also beneficial.

  • Exercise 

Physical activity provides relief from stress, builds energy, and enhances mental as well as physical health. Exercise provides endorphins which interacts with receptors in the brain and reduces a person’s perception of pain.

Incorporate working out into your daily routine as much as you can, and as often as you are able to.

  • Proper Diet

It is important that you monitor your diet and get sufficient rest. A good diet provides adequate vitamins and minerals that boost well-being.

As with all things, ask for help as soon as you need it. Talk to a licensed medical professional and seek support from your loved ones. There is no shame in that.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a medical professional.