Are You Suffering From The Winter Blahs or SAD?

 In Guelph Naturopathic Doctor

Canadian Winters and SAD

With the Canadian Winter comes the Winter Blahs.   Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression that comes at the same time each year and usually occurs in the Winter when the daylight hours are limited.  I know, ‘blah’ is not a very fancy word, but it is very accurate.   Most people describe SAD as feeling low motivation, low mood and general sense of blah.

We don’t know exactly why SAD happens, but the general consensus is that the lack of light reduces the mood- enhancing hormone serotonin while also increasing the sleepy hormone melatonin.  Your brain is in charge of sensing light and light changes and is therefore in control of our daily moods and rhythms.   On a dark and gloomy day, which could describe all of January, leads to low light enhancing hormones and subsequently lower mood.

Signs and Symptoms of SAD

Unfortunately for us women, women more than men are most often affected by SAD. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, anxious, moody or grumpy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Eating more high calorie foods and craving sweets
  • Weight Gain
  • Sleep more but still feel tired or exhausted

What Can you Do?

Even though SAD is common in Canada, it doesn’t mean you need suffer the winter blahs every year.  Try these 5 strategies to help boost  mood, energy and motivation.

  1. Exercise- helps to boost happy endorphins and mood
  2. Mindfulness & Relaxation – helps to build resilience – the ability to adapt to change and overcome the unpleasant things in our lives without being overwhelmed by them
  3. Stay on Schedule – keep sleep and wake times consistent
  4. Light Therapy – regular exposure to bright light or use of Light Therapy box can help to boost mood and reduce depression
  5. Herbal Support- one of my favourites is Pascoe’s Neurapas Balance.  It’s a combination of three mood stabilizing herbs; passionflower, valerian root and St. John’s wort.  It’s fantastic at helping to curb those wintery blah feelings, boost energy and improve motivation.  Even better, it doesn’t have any addiction potential or hang-over effect.  (* be sure to check with your health care practitioner before starting any new supplements.)


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