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 some
people consider the “winter blahs,” is
a type of depression resulting from a
disruption of the circadian rhythm, an
internal biological clock based on a 24-
hour cycle. When this rhythm is thrown
off by seasonal change, specifically
when exposure to sunlight is reduced,
the body’s reaction can include fatigue,
increased appetite, irritability and a
general lack of motivation.
Fresh air and exercise
For the average person, treatment for a mild case of SAD can
be as simple as going for a walk
to shake the snowball effect of
oversleeping, overeating, isolation, antisocial tendencies and
Light boxes, artificial supplements for required sun exposure,
can be purchased over the
counter from most medical
supply stores, but it’s best to get
a clinical assessment to make
sure they’re being used correctly.
Improper use can lead to headaches and insomnia, and may
even trigger a manic episode in
people who have a propensity
toward bipolar disorder.
A prescription of a serotonin
reuptake inhibitor (such as
Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil) can chase
the winter blues away, though
side effects can include upset
stomach and sexual dysfunction.
As with other forms of depression, SAD sufferers can work
with a mental health professional
to identify feelings of hopelessness and isolation. Therapy,
however, requires a significant
investment of time and money. A
standard treatment plan includes
12 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.