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The Weather and your Well-being

  • Wellness
Nov. 9, 2023

The days are getting shorter and colder, which can mean less opportunity for outdoor activities and the absorption of vitamin D from the sun. Did you know that 40% of Canadians become vitamin D deficient in the winter? Being deficient in vitamin D over the long term can lead to a host of health concerns, from dental issues and heart disease to osteoporosis. Research also suggests vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the development of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Let’s dive into this topic in this month’s dimension of wellness spotlight on emotional well-being.

According to the Canadian Psychological Association, approximately 15% of Canadians will experience SAD—a clinically recognized type of depression linked to seasonal shifts—in their lifetime. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Oversleeping
  • Feeling sluggish and irritable
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • And in more serious cases, having frequent thoughts of death or suicide. 

What can be done?

Firstly, it’s important to remember that it’s normal for your mood to shift and change. However, if you’re experiencing the symptoms mentioned above for more than a two-week period, you should speak with a health care professional.

Just like most other types of mood disorders, there are many treatment options available for SAD. From traditional routes like therapy and antidepressants to newer treatment options like phototherapy lights.

Finding what works for you should be done in consultation with a qualified health professional.

How can ASEBP help?

Whether you would like to discuss your symptoms with a mental health professional or already have a diagnosis and would like to use your benefits to reimburse related expenses, we have you covered. Here are just a few of the ASEBP benefits and services you can utilize:

  • Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP): with your ASEBP provided EFAP offered through Inkblot by GreenShield, you have access to four free hours of counselling each calendar year and four free hours of various services through the program’s Work, Health and Life Services (including health coaching). Once you have used all your free counselling hours, you can continue seeing the same provider and use your ASEBP benefits to reimburse the costs. Learn more in this brochure.
  • Psychology and counselling services: each calendar year, you have access to $1,200 for psychological and counselling services. Sessions will be covered up to $180 per psychology session and $120 per eligible counsellor session.
  • Phototherapy light: lifetime maximum of $300 per covered person for the purchase of a phototherapy light for the treatment of SAD (prescription required).
  • Drug coverage: reimburses the cost of medication prescribed by a doctor or other licensed health care provider in Canada.
  • Health Spending Account (HSA): if you have any out-of-pocket expenses related to the benefits utilized above (e.g., leftover prescription costs like dispensing fees, if you go over your $1,200 maximum for psychology and counselling services, etc.) be sure to submit them to your HSA for reimbursement.
  • Wellness Spending Account (WSA): if you choose to incorporate any wellness purchases (e.g., gym memberships, home exercise equipment, vitamin and supplement purchases, alternative healing therapies like stress management programs, hydrotherapy, etc.) as part of your treatment, use your WSA to reimburse costs.

Supporting your health and well-being is ASEBP’s number one priority, so be sure to take full advantage of the benefits and services offered to you.