Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to seasonal changes. It typically starts in the fall and continues through the winter months until the sun shines brightly again in spring.
What Are the Symptoms of Seasonal Depression?
SAD is a mental health condition that may affect millions of people worldwide. The most common symptoms of SAD include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy, as well as changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Its causes are widely debated, but researchers think it might have to do with lower amounts of specific types of light similar to those found during the summer months.
First Nations people on the coast of B.C. may be particularly vulnerable to SAD. The winter months can be especially challenging for First Nations communities in remote, highly forested, and mountainous areas with limited access to natural light. This lack of sunlight can worsen symptoms of SAD, making it difficult for individuals to meet their responsibilities in life.
Mental Health Program Funding Through ISC
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) recognizes the importance of addressing well-being in Indigenous communities. For this reason, they provide funding for mental health services and programs:
National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (NAYSPS) Program Framework
Another organization, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), recommends various treatments for SAD. These include cognitive-behavioural therapy, light therapy, and medication. However, these treatments may not be accessible or appropriate for all First Nations people, particularly those living in remote areas.
How to Manage Seasonal Depression in Ways That Align With Your Culture and Community
Here are some steps that First Nations individuals can take to help manage SAD symptoms. For example, regular exercise and outdoor activities, such as walking, can help increase exposure to natural light and improve mood. Practicing traditional cultural activities, connecting with the community, and seeking support from family, friends, and healthcare providers can also be beneficial.
Do You Experience SAD?
If you feel like you may be experiencing symptoms of seasonal depression, be sure to reach out to the Nation's office, and they will help you connect with the right resources for your situation.