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CMHA offers help for SAD, depression

Season Affective Disorder impacts many people this time of year
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) South Cariboo at 555 Cedar Ave in 100 Mile House. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

It’s the time of year when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is taking its toll and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) South Cariboo wants everyone to know it’s OK to reach out for help.

“January is a difficult month for a lot of people,” said Kim Fraser, a community navigator with CMHA said. “They’re coming down from Christmas, the bills are coming in, a lot of relationships where they put on a brave face through the holiday, it kind of tends to fall apart in the New Year - new year, new me kind of thing. People need to sometimes get tools, coping mechanisms, support - sometimes they need a physician to step in.”

Fraser was at Save-On-Foods last month to promote self-love, noting there is a stigma attached to mental health. The booth offered cookies and coffee and resource information.

The idea was to let people know there was help available for issues such as SAD, a form of depression that happens at certain times of the year.

According to a fact sheet on the CMHA website, SAD usually starts in the fall as the days get shorter, but there is also a less common form that can start in the spring.

There is no hard reason for what causes the disorder but winter SAD is thought to be tied to the lack of sunlight. Some signs include feeling tired all the time, feelings of hopelessness, sadness or guilt, irritability, weight gain, and loss of interest in sex and other physical contact. They may also have a change in appetite or feel like sleeping all the time.

Adults are more at risk of developing SAD than children and teenagers although the odds of getting the disorder after 50 starts to decline, according to the fact sheet. Women are also more likely to experience it than men.

The further north a person lives may also the chance of developing SAD due to the amount of daylight.

There are treatments available for seasonal affective disorder.

Fraser wanted to let people know it is OK to be sad and to reach out for help.

“That’s what the CMHA is for. We’re here to provide resources for mental health.”

The local CMHA chapter offers several services, including an activity clubhouse which provides a safe place for those who struggle to socialize. There are activities in the clubhouse, fishing trips each Friday in the summer and lunches where people are encouraged to socialize.

CMHA also offers Homeless Outreach, making sure people are safe in extreme weather events, providing a safe house for children and those fleeing abuse and a Stop the Violence Program. They also provide referrals and counselling options, supported independent living, and a food cupboard for clients struggling to make ends meet.

For info, call 250-395-4883.

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Fiona Grisswell

About the Author: Fiona Grisswell

I graduated from the Writing and New Media Program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 2004.
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