Kingston’s own rainy day people

Have this city’s wind and rain got you down? It may all be in your head

Despite this week’s warm temperatures, Kingston can be a gloomy city, filled with plenty of rain and snow, during the academic year.
Despite this week’s warm temperatures, Kingston can be a gloomy city, filled with plenty of rain and snow, during the academic year.

Despite Kingston’s recent onslaught of rainy, miserable days, the only thing out of the ordinary this
November is the temperature.

“Last winter was the warmest winter on record for the entire country,” Sharon Jeffers, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada, told the Journal.

“Temperature wise, it’s quite warm right now,” Jeffers said. Although the amount of rain that pummeled Kingston last week might have seemed severe, the amount of precipitation so far
for the month of November is just about average, according to Environment Canada’s website.

Combined with the cloudy skies, it didn’t help that daylight was slowly becoming more scarce. Campus started to resemble one of those weird dystopian movies from the 80’s, like Brazil or Blade Runner—all rain and no sun. If all this sounds depressing to you, don’t be surprised to learn that it can actually cause depression.

Another norm for this time of year is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s a type of depressive disorder that usually occurs between October and April to coincide with the photoperiod.

“The disorder is a subtype of mood disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of seasonal depression, which usually occur in the fall and winter months,” said Michela David, a psychologist
at Providence Continuing Care Centre’s Mental Health Services.

“It’s a treatable condition which can severely affect one’s ability to function normal during the fall and
winter months, but it can occur other times of the year.”

When the days start getting shorter, those with the disorder start getting symptoms of atypical depression, which includes an increase in appetite (especially for carbohydrates), an excessive need
for sleep and lack of interest in normal activities. Hypersomnolence, or an increase in sleep, may just seem like another way to avoid the stress of school work, but for three to four per cent of Canadians, it’s symptomatic of a greater problem.

“Winter blues is not the same as SAD,” David said. “It’s much more minor and much more common[than The disorder]—about 25 per cent of the population experiences winter blues.”

She said feeling drained or overwhelmed from school is easily treated by keeping a healthy diet and maintaining a steady sleep routine. Those with winter blues might also have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, but this is usually pretty common.

But SAD is more severe, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle isn’t enough to treat or prevent it. This is only helps when done in combination with other treatments,” David said. “It’s adjunctive treatment.” Lifestyle changes to help stress reduction, such as keeping a constant sleep/wake schedules, exercise, getting outside each day, exposing oneself to regular time cues (regular meal times, etcetera) help treat winter blues, but don’t cure SAD.”

Light therapy and anti-depressant medication are the two most common methods to treat the disorder.
“Light therapy involves sitting in front of a full spectrum light for half an hour each day, every day,” she said.

This simulates your bodily rhythms the same way natural sunlight would. “The second way to treat SAD is with anti-depressants. This can be better for people with severe symptoms. The only problem
is that people are less likely to take them.”

For the disorder’s sufferers, their incessant need for sleep can prevent them from functioning the way they normally would any other time of the year. What makes the disorder so different from other types of mood disorders is that it is only prevalent during a certain time of year. This makes it difficult for those with the disorder to realize that they have it, because SAD can be misunderstood as just another reaction to a stressful time of year. “It often takes a while to notice because it coincides with busy time at school,” David said. Latitude also affects the degree to which a person with the disorder
displays atypical depressive symptoms: the farther North you go, the less sunlight there is, the more prone one is to symptoms related to this mood disorder. Ironically, if you’re of Northern descent, you may be less likely to have SAD. Recent studies have shown that those of Icelandic descent have “inherent protection.”

Although researchers don’t know for sure why certain people have the disorder and others don’t, genetics probably have something to do with it. “People who have a family history of depression in eneral are more prone.”

The disorder also tends to affect younger women—80 per cent of SAD patients are pre-menopausal women.

The youngest SAD patient was nine, but the average age is 23, which makes students especially likely to suffer from the disorder. Students who think they may suffer from seasonal affective disorder dhould seek counselling at HCDS, where they can be assessed and then referred to a personal
counselor in the city.

Street Clothes

Name: Tanya Mayo-Bruinsma, ArtSci ‘10, Fair Trade Co-op Volunteer

How would you describe your style?

My usual style is just comfortable and I like dressing so that people don’t look the same as me. Naked can be comfortable and right now I’m naked to support Buy Nothing Day.

What is Buy Nothing Day?

It’s a day where we encourage people to buy nothing in order for them to realize or be conscious of their consumerism and to think about how they spend their money and what they spend it on [and] what causes they’re willing to support. It’s so that people can realize what they’re consuming, because the corporations right now encourage people to spend without thinking about it, and they try to encourage more consumption through low prices and bulk buying. As much as that’s great as a student, it’s not the best thing for the world. I’m guilty of buying stuff without thinking about it, but at the same time, I try to be conscious of what I’m doing and support good causes like the Farmer’s Market with local consumption and sustainable things like fair trade coffee and travel mugs.

--Buy Nothing Day is Monday, Nov. 27, and Buy Something Day is Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Name: Kelly Bowden, ArtSci ‘07, Project Director, Fair Trade Co-op

How would you describe your style?

Justice issues and where things come from intrigues me. Everything I have, why do I have it and where did it come from? The things I accumulate, I try to get them from the most direct way possible. So these pants, I didn’t make them, but someone gave them to me. And this sweater, Jen Valberg from Ghetto Couture, made it and when I bought it, I didn’t even buy it at a store, I bought it directly from her. The apple I got yesterday at the Farmer’s Market in the JDU C. The coffee comes from the co-op actually, because the co-op sells fair trade products, like coffee, tea, sugar, hot chocolate.

What is Buy Something Day?

Buy Something Day is an Oxfam creation and I think it stemmed from the idea that Buy Nothing Day was something we wanted to recognize and understand how prevalent
consumerism is. There are so many organizations that are paralyzing; they show the things that you can’t do and a lot of people don’t think that that’s a productive
way to function for change. Buy Something Day in essence promotes responsible consumerism, and being conscious of what your consumption is and where it stems from.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.