'Blue Monday' draws attention to Seasonal Affective disorder in Sask.

The third Monday in January is widely known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, despite little to no scientific evidence backing up that claim. (Nathan Cowley / Pexels)

The third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday, drawing attention to the depression and the difficulties those suffering from the winter blues face.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), five per cent of the country is affected by Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD).

The CMHA says it’s quite normal for people’s mood to shift due to days being shorter, darker, and colder.

Herman Turcot, who lives in Saskatoon, said his mood is affected by the lack of sunlight in the winter.

“Everyday is a struggle, the sun is not out so it doesn’t help,” said Turcot. “That’s energy that what we need.”

The CMHA said SAD, or a milder version known as the winter blues, affects as many as 15 per cent of Canadians.

“For many people we can all feel it. But for some people, they actually experience a form of depression as a result of Seasonal Affective Disorder,” said the Executive Director of Canadian Mental Association Saskatoon Branch Faith Bodnar.

Bodnar added that Canadians feel the effects due to dark times and shorter days, with people only primarily affected in the Northern Hemisphere.

“For some people it affects their sleep pattern, as well as appetite. They can become very tired and listless so it’s really important to be aware of it,” she said.

Bodnar said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to people dealing with all mental health issues, including those with SAD.

“Prior to COVID we used to say one in five people would experience a mental health issue that requires medical attention, we’re now saying five in five people are experiencing mental health issues,” she said.

The CMHA Saskatoon branch is seeing existing clients four times as frequently.

For people who are experiencing SAD, Bodnar recommends getting outside, exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet, or reaching out to a medical professional. Bodnar also said now is the time for people to be checking in on each other.

“We never want to assume that somebody is okay just because they say they are okay,” said Bodnar. “If you got a family member who is having a little hard of a time, take dinner over to them, give them a call.”

It’s a gesture Turcot knows would go a long way.

“It’s so important, especially given this COVID-19, you got to check on people,” he said.

Those seeking help can contact the Canadian Mental Health Association Saskatoon Branch: info@CMHAsaskatoon.ca or 306-384-9333.