It's Getting Cold & The Sun is Setting Early, Now What?

Sarah Al-Refae

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Have you been experiencing a lack of motivation or more upsets lately during Winter? Well, you're not alone and it is definitely understandable. This is called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is considered as a type of depression. It occurs mostly during seasons such as fall or winter (when the temperature drops). This is when the sun sets much earlier than usual and the days gets shorter. Less exposure to the sun results in a chemical change in the brain that leads to depressive symptoms.

SAD Symptoms

  • Increased sleep

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that the individual once took interest in

  • Anxiety

  • Feeling Irritable

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Unable to think logically

  • Increased appetite

  • Weight gain

  • Physical symptoms (i.e., headaches)


Treatments that are accessible to individuals with SAD can include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), antidepressants, and light therapy.


This is considered as a type of talk therapy where it focuses on how our thoughts and behaviours affects our feelings. Thus, altering our thoughts about situations and coming up with effective solutions can improve one's wellbeing. Next to your therapist, CBT sessions can be held individually, with your partner, with a group, or online.


Antidepressants can be used to treat individuals diagnosed with SAD; however, research suggests that they have very little effect on individuals. They are typically most effective when they are taken prior to the onset of symptoms and winter. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a common example of antidepressants that can be used to treat SAD. Individuals should also be aware that side effects come along with antidepressants as labelled on their prescribed medication.

Light Therapy

Light therapy can drastically improve the mood of individuals with SAD. Light therapy consists of a special lamp, entitled a 'light box'. Essentially, an individual can sit by this light box for approximately 30 minutes to an hour every morning. Thus, the light produced by the light box can imitate and account for the sunlight that is missing during winter. The notion is that this light may enhance SAD by lowering the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you tired) and increase the production of serotonin (a hormone that influences your mood).

So, what can YOU do?

While the practices above can be costly, here are a few inexpensive self-care tips that you can partake in:

  • Going on walks, especially in the morning while the sun is out in order to take in sunlight, fresh air, and have a change of scenery

  • Exercising at your local gym or at home

  • Socializing with family or friends no matter what (whether the sun is up or not). This can be done by creating plans inside or outside consistently so it becomes part of your routine. As a result, this will enhance your serotonin

  • Seek help from your social circle when feeling down during SAD. Your family and friends can accompany you and change your mood or ensure that you keep up with activities that can maintain your well-being

  • Adding vitamin D into your diet by consulting a nutritionist to understand its benefits in-depth

  • Starting a new hobby; this will keep you motivated to want to learn more about your recent interest(s)

  • Remind yourself that you deserve happiness; a reminder never hurt anybody

And most importantly,

Love yourself. You are special because you're unlike anybody else. You are you.
From the team, Cara.

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