Seasonal Affective Disorder

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It’s that time of season where the leaves have beautiful different hues of red, orange and yellow. The pumpkins are out and the scarecrows are nearby. Fall is a time of gathering, pumpkin and pecan pies and flavored coffees, layers of clothes and a time to slowly prepare for the holidays. Fall is also a time when the sun in not as prominent throughout the day, nightfall comes sooner and daylight savings time ends. Therefore, our bodies and minds are slowly (or fast, depending where you are) preparing for the colder, rainy and snow-filled days.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Aproximately 10% of the population does not adapt to these changes well and they have Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. That becomes more noticeable in Northern America where it is colder and less sunny.

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There are two types of S.A.D. The more common one has the Fall/Winter onset, whereas the second one is Spring/Summer. What occurs is that when the light changes our internal clock or Circadian Rhythm changes and gets us out of balance and our Vitamin D levels decrease. What happens internally is that there is a deficiency of Monoamine Neurotransmitters. As a result, it lowers the Norepinephrine, Dopamine and Serotonine levels which regulate mood.


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Common symptoms would be:

  • low energy
  • increased sleep
  • change in mood
  • irritability
  • sadness or anxiety
  • no interest in pleasurable activities
  • trouble concentrating
  • an increase in cravings towards carbs and sweets.

Ways to feel better:

Some of the things that you can do to combat S.A.D. is talk to a counsellor to discuss better ways of coping; you can take Vitamin D supplements, exercise and have a sleep routine. Also, you can implement outdoor activities to increase your exposure to light and you can even consider light therapy. Light therapy is a light that simulates what the sun provides for us mentally and physically and you can use it 30 minutes a day for best results.

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Take a look at this short video describing Seasonal Affective Disorder:

If you are struggling and do not know where to start; you feel stuck; if one person wants to try more than the other you can contact Sophia Nicoli MSc, RMFT at Willow Roots Therapy. I provide counselling to couples, families and individuals and am located on 323 Chapel Street in Ottawa, Ontario. You can contact me by email at You can call also 613-620-0660 or you can find more information on my website at