What works — and what doesn’t —
according to Dr. Scott Patten, pychia-
trist, epidemiologist and University of
Calgary Faculty of Medicine member.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
(SAD), a more severe form of what somepeople consider the “winter blahs,” isa type of depression resulting from adisruption of the circadian rhythm, aninternal biological clock based on a 24-hour cycle. When this rhythm is thrownoff by seasonal change, specificallywhen exposure to sunlight is reduced,the body’s reaction can include fatigue,increased appetite, irritability and ageneral lack of motivation.
Fresh air and exercise
For the average person, treatment for a mild case of SAD canbe as simple as going for a walkto shake the snowball effect ofoversleeping, overeating, isolation, antisocial tendencies andgeneral malaise.
Light boxes, artificial supplements for required sun exposure,can be purchased over thecounter from most medicalsupply stores, but it’s best to geta clinical assessment to makesure they’re being used correctly.Improper use can lead to headaches and insomnia, and mayeven trigger a manic episode inpeople who have a propensitytoward bipolar disorder.
A prescription of a serotoninreuptake inhibitor (such asProzac, Zoloft or Paxil) can chasethe winter blues away, thoughside effects can include upsetstomach and sexual dysfunction.
As with other forms of depression, SAD sufferers can workwith a mental health professionalto identify feelings of hopelessness and isolation. Therapy,however, requires a significantinvestment of time and money. Astandard treatment plan includes12 to 16 one-hour sessions.
*For tips on safe tobogganing, visit applemag.ca
410Average number of tobogganing-related injuries treated annually in Alberta emergency
departments between 2004 and 2008, according
to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and research.