SAD is more than just being sad

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On the first official day of winter and the shortest day of the year, people can be feeling depressed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real problem, especially in the north. SAD is a condition that goes well beyond the typical ‘winter blues’ mentality. It is a form of clinical depression, which is characterized by regular changes in a person’s mood depending on the season, says Sherri Hevenor, a director for mental health and addictions with Northern Health.

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According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, up to 100,000 people in B.C. may be affected by SAD.

People with SAD are often greatly affected by the shortened days and lack of significant sunlight. Hevenor says many people do feel sadder throughout the winter, but if a person shows extreme symptoms that are out of character and which last for an extended period of time, then that person should seek help.

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Hevenor says the holiday season can also be depressing for some people who might miss their families or might be remembering a family member who recently passed away.

Some of the tips Hevenor gives to combat winter depression are healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep, and also going outside. She adds that getting fresh air can be very important to ensure someone does not become affected by a form of cabin fever.

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