How To Prevent Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is more common in areas further removed from the equator for one simple reason. The reduced hours of sunlight in winter. Indeed, this form of depression which affects 2 to 3% of the Canadian population, especially in the months of November, December and January, is mainly due to the reduced exposure to light.

What time is it?

This decrease in a person's exposure to sunlight in winter can lead to changes in certain hormone or neurotransmitter levels (melatonin, serotonin, etc.). It is thought that this hormonal imbalance is behind seasonal affective disorder. It is for this reason, among others, that several movements are standing up to put an end to the time change in the fall and keep daylight saving time all year long. In Canada, only the province of Saskatchewan does not change time.

It has been shown that three times more women than men are likely to suffer from seasonal depression and that young adults aged 20 to 30 would be most affected. But it should be noted that it can also affect children.

From October to April

Symptoms appear in the month of October and disappear in April. There should be no symptoms throughout the summer months. The most common signs of seasonal depression are:


  • Mood disorders (irritability, mood swings...)
  • Chronic fatigue and drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Energy loss
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Severe stress
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia)
  • Decreased libido
  • Sadness
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Taste for sweet things and weight gain
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Dark or suicidal thoughts

Light please!

Depression is diagnosed by a physician who will evaluate the symptoms (description, start, end, etc.). It may be difficult to differentiate seasonal depression from standard depression since the symptoms are very similar. However, with time and the repetition of symptoms at a specific time of the year, the diagnosis will be more precise.

Phototherapy (light therapy) is the most common treatment. The principle behind this treatment is to replicate the effects of sunlight through daily exposure to artificial light. The light devices provide a sufficient amount of light (10,000 lux) to which one should be exposed for 30 minutes a day, preferably in the morning. Treatment may even include antidepressants depending on the severity of symptoms and other factors to be determined by a physician.

A bright environment

Like anything else, prevention is an excellent way to avoid such a disorder. Getting outside for an hour a day increases exposure to the sun. Exercising outdoors allows you to combine wellness and sun exposure. Also, a few things can be done at home to increase sunlight. Rearrange the workspace to be near a window, avoid closing curtains during the day, paint walls with light colors or add mirrors near windows if lighting is poor in some rooms.

A light-colored floor covering that can be easily installed over a radiant floor will provide both freshness for the eyes and mood and comforting warmth in these colder times. Just think of the Bromont engineered hardwood from the Mountain View collection that brings an antique and natural look with a matte finish that reminds us of sunny winter days in nature at the cottage.

In short, the important thing in all this is to know how to surround yourself with sunshine, in all forms and aspects. To feel good, comfortable and healthy.



    Jean Coutu