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Seasonal Affective Disorder in Calgary: Recognizing Symptoms and Learning How to Cope

Seasonal Affective Disorder in Calgary

Living in Calgary, as with the rest of Canada, means shorter days and longer nights during winter.

For those that have seasonal affective disorder in Calgary this is the time that is most concerning. They begin to feel more tired and run-down. Activities that are usually enjoyable no longer hold the same attraction. Plus, it’s cold out!

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What is It?

Many people experience short periods of time during which they feel unusually sad or simply unlike their usual selves. For some people, these changes occur when the seasons change. A person might start feeling more negative and hopeless as soon as the days become shorter in the winter and even during the fall. Because it tends to happen during the colder months, its commonly referred to as the “winter blues.” Due to the nature of this occurrence, it should come as no surprise that the symptoms seem to disappear quite strangely during summer and spring when the daylight hours are longer.

For some people the mood changes are extremely serious, even to the point where they can affect your personal life and your daily functioning. If you have experienced these types of changes, you might have seasonal affective disorder and you may need to seek out help to improve the way you function and interact with others during the darker months.

If you struggle with SAD, then it’s important that you recognize the symptoms of the condition. Luckily, despite the effect of SAD, it’s not only possible to cope but also thrive, despite seasonal affective disorder and in this article we will discuss how.

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD is a condition in which people experience signs of depression during the colder, darker, winter months. During the spring, summer, and early fall, this is not a problem and they feel much better. There are several reasons why this happens.

One is that there is less sunlight, which interferes with your internal clock. You might also experience a change in levels of melatonin and serotonin. These disruptions mean that you are more susceptible to experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Additionally, if you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, that too can put you at greater risk for SAD.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Many of the symptoms associated with depression are the same for SAD. For example:


  • Experiencing a loss of energy and motivation.
  • Lack of interest in things that typically brought you joy, happiness, and satisfaction.
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating on tasks.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Sleeping longer and having difficulty waking up in the morning.
  • Having thoughts of hopelessness.


As you can imagine, it’s difficult trying to get through the winter when you are experiencing depression symptoms. Luckily, there are ways to cope with SAD.

Ways to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

We understand that you might feel like solving the puzzling condition that is SAD, is a near impossible task. But don’t fret, there are tried and tested ways to get back on track and tackle the dark feelings you associate with the condition.

Using a Light Therapy Box

One way to cope with SAD is by using a light therapy box. A light therapy box emits light that’s similar to sunlight. The light therapy box should emit light at 10,000 lux. However, it should not be UV light.

The goal of using a light therapy box is for your body to be exposed to light that mimics the natural light of the sun. This could greatly reduce the problem of an interrupted internal clock or disrupted serotonin and melatonin levels. However, before you order a light therapy box online, check with your physician or medical professional first to ensure that this type of therapy is appropriate for you.

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Cope

The next thing that you can do to cope with the symptoms of SAD is by making healthy lifestyle changes. For example:

  • Ensuring you have a regular bedtime and wake time that’s consistent every day.
  • Adding a little exercise to your life! There’s lots of evidence to show it works for depression.
  • Eating a nutritious diet.
  • Avoiding alcohol and drug use, especially during the dark winter months.
  • Even if it’s cold, try to make time to go outside during the day.
  • Spending quality time with friends and family.
  • Harnessing your creative energies into art, music, etc
  • Having a pet to keep you company.

Perhaps the key to making positive lifestyle changes that are effective against SAD is consistency. When you consistently practice a lifestyle change, it has a greater chance of being a permanent change. Ask a friend or family member to help keep you accountable so you can stay on track.

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We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.