Is it depression or the winter blues?
(NC) For most Canadians, winter can be a time for fun in the snow, on the skating rink, or just spending time with family over a cup of hot cocoa. But for the nearly three million Canadians living with clinical depression, the winter months may often be spent alone indoors with increased feelings of isolation. What do you do when it's not just the “winter blues”?
Living with a depressive disorder is more than just experiencing emotional symptoms, or feeling sad. Thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and serotonin, sufferers can also experience negative physical impacts, such as aches and pains, and lack of energy. While the frequency, severity and duration of symptoms may be different for each person, depression can interfere with an individual's ability to work, sleep, study, eat and enjoy once-pleasurable activities, including everything winter has to offer.
“It's important to partner with your healthcare provider to develop an effective treatment plan. Treatment options may include talk therapy, lifestyle strategies – such as exercise – and medication,” said Dr. Thomas Ungar, Chief of Psychiatry, North York General Hospital. “When starting a new medication, speaking with your doctor or pharmacist to understand what it is, how it works and how long it may take to feel better, as well as potential side effects, is crucial to treatment success.”
Understanding your condition and medication will help you better manage through the winter months and beyond with improved control over your health and life.
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