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Question:

My depression gets much worse after the holidays. Should I increase my meds to get me through to the spring?

Answer from Express Scripts Canada Pharmacist, Haroona Farhan:

Depression is a common problem, but there is a particular kind of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, that affects some people during the winter months, when lack of sunlight can throw off our natural body rhythms.

Here are three tactics that may be used to treat SAD:

  1. Light therapy involves exposing your eyes, indirectly, to simulated sunlight for 20 minutes or more a day, to replace the natural light we lack in the winter. There are special lamps that produce the kind of light your body needs. Some drug plans may cover the cost.
  2. The same anti-depressants you take to treat depression can also treat SAD. Increasing your dose during the winter months could help your mood, but talk to your doctor first. Keep in mind that dosage changes should be gradual to avoid dangerous side effects.
  3. Research shows that one-on-one psychotherapy or counseling can also help improve the symptoms of depression, including SAD.

          For more information on SAD, check out our blog: Short winter days can lead to short fuse, anxiety, depression

If your blues are not so severe, try the following to boost your mood:

  • Resist carbs like bread and pasta if possible. They can make you lethargic and dampen your mood.
  • Bundle up and go for a brisk walk outside. If it’s a sunny day, your walk could give you double the benefits because exercise boosts your mood and so does 15 minutes of direct sunlight a day.

The good news is that the days have already started getting longer. But if you’re depressed, see your doctor. Depression is a serious condition, and needs to be treated right away.

          Read: How pharmacists can help patients with depression 

Until next time, I’m Haroona Farhan and this has been ‘Ask the Pharmacist’.

I wish you good health.

 

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