The days are getting progressively shorter, and the lack of light could be having a negative effect on your mood and mental wellness, potentially leading to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Less light means a decreased ability to synthesize important vitamins. "We actually absorb vitamins and things through the sun, like Vitamin D for example – and so that actually mixes with our body chemistry and our brain chemistry, and affects how we think,” said Rebecca Rackow, Director of Advocacy, Research, and Public Policy Development with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
She adds that it’s not only vitamins that are lacking, though. “There’s more darkness, which affects people in a more directly psychological way.”
Psychological factors for developing SAD include life stress, other mental health issues, or social isolation, though anyone can be susceptible.
You can prevent SAD through taking steps to improve your lifestyle, including eating healthy foods, getting outside when there is some sunshine, and going out to socialize with friends and family.
If your negative mood persists, seek medical attention. “If it affects you in a way that you’re starting to think very unclearly and you find yourself struggling when you’re trying to get out of bed, see your family doctor and they’ll know what to do,” Rackow said.
She also recommends checking in on the people around you to see how they’re doing, as you may notice that they are struggling when they don’t see it themselves. “Maybe let them know that you noticed or offer to go do something with them so that it’s not isolating, and that sort of thing. Let’s take care of each other.”