As the days grow shorter and the temperature begins to decline, so, too, do some people’s moods.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition that causes people to gradually become depressed with the beginning of a new season, particularly in fall and with the approach of winter months.
Chris Teiman, 20, a first year Humber sports management student from Nunavut, has seen this occur a lot in his northern community.
Nunavut has 24 hours of darkness, for three months in the winter and Teiman said he’s seen SAD in his peers most often at that time.
“You crave any kind of excitement to escape that numb feeling,” said Teiman. “The fact that you can’t escape it drives you crazy.”
There are many symptoms, foremost being depression, hopelessness and loss of energy.
Shaniece Phillips, 17, a first-year psychology student at University of Guelph-Humber, said depression seems to be a lot more common in teens and young people.
“It becomes an overwhelming emotion that younger people may not really know how to deal with,” Phillips said. “The sadness becomes kind of blinding.”
Catherine Moffat, manager of counseling services Toronto, said there are a few reasons we see emotional changes in the winter months.
“There is no social interaction, it’s like you go into hibernation,” she said. “If someone knows they have SAD, it may get them proactive and keep them from deeper depression.”
Ihab Labib, pharmacist at Humber Green Pharmacy dispenses anti-depressants at least once a day but there are limitations to the drugs, he said.
“Anti-depressants are not magic tablets, they can cause weight gain and take quite some time to work,” Labib said.
Labib thinks that SAD can be more prevalent in certain geographical locations than others, referring to the fact that there seems to be less anti-depressants dispensed in this area as opposed to other areas.
“This area is heavily populated with Italian and Indian cultures and they are very much family oriented cultures,” says Labib. “These cultures have the family support and they socialize a lot, so that may help in keeping their spirits high.”