- Health and topice

Seasonal Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

If you experience a drop in energy and your morale is more fragile , you may be suffering from seasonal depression (or winter blues), just like 2 to 3% of Canadians.

Many Canadians are affected by the decrease in sunshine hours that come with winter and suffer from seasonal depression. Some leave for more sunny destinations, but most of them stay in the country and hardly live in this gray period.

The exact causes of seasonal depression are still unknown, but the lack of light intensity and the decrease in the duration of exposure to natural light during the winter seem the most likely and the most important.

The symptoms of seasonal depression occur especially in the late fall and persist until the arrival of spring each year. The diagnosis arises when you have suffered from these ailments for at least two consecutive years.

Very similar to depression, they affect the quality of life of those affected. Symptoms of seasonal depression include:

  • depressed mood presents all day;
  • loss of interest in activities that we usually enjoy
  • fatigue, lack of energy;
  • irritability;
  • loss or weight gain;
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness;
  • suicidal thoughts.

If you have one or more of these symptoms each year, you may be suffering from seasonal depression. It is important to consult your doctor who will make the diagnosis and will help you. You can also talk to your pharmacist.

Light therapy is an alternative to counter the symptoms of seasonal depression. – Francine Denis, pharmacist owner at the Donnacona branch.


  • Take the air at least an hour a day (a little longer if the day is gray), even in the middle of winter. Home lighting is not as beneficial as natural light.
  • Let the outside light enter your home. A pale color on your walls can also help to increase the brightness.
  • Do physical activity. The practice of a winter sport will be beneficial.


Since seasonal depression is directly related to lack of exposure to light, light therapy ( light-based therapy) plays an important role in treatment.

It consists in exposing oneself regularly, at a fixed time, to a white light of strong intensity. An intensity of 10,000 LUX (unit of measure of brightness) is recommended, beginning gradually with sessions of 10 to 15 minutes a day to reach 30 minutes daily. The use of the lamp would be more profitable in the morning than in the evening.

Light therapy is not recommended for everyone. If you have eye problems, this therapy may be discouraged. There are several kinds of light therapy devices on the market; your pharmacist can help you choose the one that’s right for you.

The use of antidepressant medications may be necessary and effective in restoring the chemical balance to the brain. Antidepressants can also be combined with light therapy.

Moreover, a psychotherapy done by a professional could give you tools to overcome this difficult period. An attentive ear is often beneficial to entrust us and cheer us up. Do not hesitate to talk about it; do not close yourself.

Remember that your mental health is as important as your physical health and do not let seasonal depression deprive you of the beauty of winter. Take the time to get in touch with your health care professional, because your health, in summer and winter, is all that matters!

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