Should we fear seasonal depression with the time change?

Quebeckers and most Canadians will gain an hour of sleep during the night from Saturday to Sunday, but will therefore lose an hour of daylight in the evening. A change dreaded by those who, as winter approaches, say they are likely to suffer from seasonal depression.

Although numerous studies have found other impacts of the weather change, such as an increase in strokes, car accidents and medical errors, the science is still unclear about the risk of seasonal depression. the duty He spoke to a psychologist to clear things up.

Maxime De Gélas, co-director of the Laurier Park Psychology Clinic, refers to the recommendations of the DSM-5, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

The paper “does not recognize the term ‘seasonal depression,’ but refers to ‘seasonal depressive disorder,'” he says. “A diagnosis can be made if depressive symptoms occur for more than two weeks, if they affect psychosocial functioning and if they are related to a change of season. »

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) defines “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)” as “a mood disorder that comes and goes with seasonal changes, appearing in the fall and disappearing in the spring or the summer.” Approximately 15% of Canadians have experienced mild symptoms at least once in their lifetime, while 2% to 3% have reported severe symptoms. The CPS adds that 10% of depression diagnoses in Canada are “the result of SAD.”

Relieve symptoms

Whether a diagnosis of “depressive disorder” has been received or not, the arrival of autumn requires adaptations for everyone, and can increase the volume of already existing difficulties, specifies Mr. From Gélas. “The change in time especially affects the sleep-wake cycle, which can make us more irritable and alter our emotions.” This is why “people talk about it a lot in clinics” and that “in winter “the requests for psychotherapy consultations increase”.

The psychologist maintains that it is “normal to feel affected” by the changes in time and season. “So one of the first things people can do to ease their symptoms is to prepare themselves psychologically and give themselves time to adjust. We should also continue with the activities we did before the change of season, like sport and going out with friends, even if we have a tendency to isolate ourselves, and even if it is more difficult than usual. »

“If we don’t see any improvement despite these efforts, we may consider consultation,” he says. The SCP indicates that cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, and psychodynamic therapies are particularly effective and especially recommended.

A recurring debate

Inevitably, the time change gives rise to debates about its legitimacy. Last month, the Parti Québécois petitioned the National Assembly to abolish it, saying it “doesn’t do anything good, especially for sleeping.”

The sovereignist party had already presented a motion, in 2019, with the aim of setting up a study group on the issue. Although he said he was open to “studying” it in 2020, François Legault did not follow up on this proposal.

The Yukon and Saskatchewan have already abolished the time change, while other provinces are considering doing so.

So, for now, this controversial measure remains in eastern Canada. At 2am on Sunday, it will actually be 1am. Rewinding will be automatic on most phones and computers, but will need to be done manually on many clocks and alarm clocks. It is also recommended to use this time to change the batteries in the smoke detectors in your home.

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