How to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder in Calgary Winters

If you are from Calgary, you know the winters can be long, cold and dark. While some people thrive through the winter months and enjoy the snowy winter wonderland, others struggle with their mental health and suffer from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

According to Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that is correlated with the changes in seasons. While SAD is most commonly experienced as autumn and the colder winter months set in, it is possible that it can also occur in the spring or early summer.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

While its entirely normal to get a case of the winter blues, SAD is a more serious condition that causes symptoms such as:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in your usual everyday activities
  • Low energy, issues sleeping
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt

If you or someone you know are experiencing SAD, consider using a combination of the following strategies for treating your symptoms through the upcoming Calgary winter.

1) Exercise and eating well

In the cold winter months, Calgarians tend to retreat into their warm homes and often cut ties with their regular physical activity routines like jogging outside or taking an evening stroll. Keeping up your regular routine might not be entirely feasible, but substituting other forms of physical activity is important. Consider adopting a winter sport like skiing or pick up an indoor physical activity like yoga or spin class.

How does exercise help with SAD? According to Livestrong, exercise increases your brain’s production of serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is associated with good health and mental wellbeing, and it naturally helps to combat your depressive symptoms so that you can power through the winter.

2) Light therapy

Canadian winters mean short days with limited daylight. For many Calgarians, the lack of sunlight contributes to SAD and other mood disorders. Light therapy, also called phototherapy, is meant to treat SAD by mimicking outdoor light with a very bright, artificial indoor light.

Mayo Clinic says that research is limited for light therapy, but it seems to be very effective for people suffering from seasonal mood disorders. Ensure you speak with a doctor about the best type of product to purchase before going ahead with light therapy.

3) Psychotherapy

In psychotherapy, more commonly referred to as counselling, psychologists apply proven approaches to help you develop a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. There are several types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy, that help you to work through depression and mental health issues like SAD.

A therapist or counsellor will help you develop coping mechanisms to help navigate the symptoms of SAD, and will guide you in mapping out a personalized strategy for creating positive habits and maintaining a healthy balance in your life.


If you or a loved one suffers from SAD, we understand that it can be difficult to find the light during the winter months in Calgary. If you’re ready to take the first step towards managing your SAD symptoms so that you can live a balanced, healthy life, contact Your Counselling today for a free consultation.