Blue Monday isn’t real, but the Canadian Mental Health Association says seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are. (Unsplash image - Gabriele Diwald)

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

If you find yourself feeling down on Jan. 20, you might be experiencing Blue Monday.

The third Monday of the year is what some also consider the most depressing day of the year, but according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Blue Monday is a myth.

The CMHA website says the dark day was actually a marketing strategy used to encourage people to go on vacation in January.

However, the national mental health organization says seasonal affective disorder and the “winter blues” are very real.

“As days get shorter, darker and colder, it’s quite common to notice a shift in mood,” the CMHA website says.

READ ALSO: Does the season make you blue? It could be SAD

In Canada, about five per cent of the population is affected by seasonal affective disorder, which can manifest as changes in energy, appetite and overall mood.

The “winter blues” which affect as many as 15 per cent of people in Canada, are considered to be a milder form of seasonal affective disorder. They are a wave of low emotions that accompany the darker, colder days of the winter season.

Those experiencing winter blues might feel the need to sleep longer, eat more comfort food and spend more time alone rather than with friends and family.

While the winter season is unavoidable, lifestyle changes like getting some daylight, exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet are recommended to help battle the winter blues.

READ ALSO: Shortened daylight in B.C. can put damper on mental health

Keeping a normal sleep schedule and being kind to yourself by checking in regularly and spending some time on self-care are also helpful.

The CMHA says treatment for seasonal affective disorder can also include light therapy, counselling, medication or a combination of the three.

“Its important to note that lifestyle changes aren’t always sufficient to beat the winter blues or SAD, and that you can always reach out for supports and services,” the CMHA says. “Treatments are available to help you cope, such as counselling and light therapy.”

Those seeking mental health resources can find some on the province’s website as well as on Island Health’s website.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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