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Struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Health Insurance Can Help

Woman in ice tunnel
It usually happens the same season each year – that depressed feeling during those long, dark winter days and nights. If you are tired of feeling SAD, your health insurance may be able to help.

As the temperature begins to drop the sun seems to hide from the cold, just like the rest of us. As we resign ourselves to a few months of wintery weather, many people begin to feel less like themselves.

Sometimes we get the “winter blahs,” but there are those who find themselves feeling down for an extended period of time. What if it’s not just weather related, but actual Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? How do you know? And what can you do to feel better?

This is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

According to CAMH, SAD is a type of depression that usually happens in the fall or winter likely because of changes in the amount of sunlight which can upset your sleep-wake patterns and disturb your body’s serotonin and dopamine functions.

Like major depression you feel sad or in despair, and it lasts most of the day, for days on end. It stops you from enjoying social events and can de-motivate you from doing your best at work or school. You may feel withdrawn or hopeless, maybe irritable, or tired and have trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

If you have these feelings, its time to see your doctor — self-diagnosis or self-treatment of SAD is not recommended because there are other medical causes for depressive symptoms.

There are health treatments that can help

If you can find the motivation, an important step to feeling better is by increasing exercise and spending more time outdoors. Many people who have SAD are helped by exposure to bright artificial light (light therapy) which can be used at home.

Other treatments for depression can also help reduce your symptoms

  • Medications
  • Psychoeducation
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)

Escaping depression often takes a combination of health treatments, many of which are covered by health insurance.

Two men talking

Your winter wellness may start with counselling

Your doctor will be able to guide you through your health treatment options.

One of the first suggestions may be psychological counselling or therapy. Those words are interchangeable because mental health therapists/counsellors do both things. They use counselling to connect with their clients and build a relationship and use therapies to facilitate change to improve your mental health.

A psychologist is a professional who specializes in mental health and studies behaviour. He or she will sit down with you, ask questions, and listen. They will want to know who you are and what’s bothering you. They can help you come up with some coping strategies, but sometimes the session itself, and unloading your feelings, can help tremendously.

Sometimes it helps to talk to someone about your problems, and it can be easier when you don’t know the person. Having that barrier between patient and professional can be very helpful. A psychologist is not there to judge you, but to help you.

Most health insurance plans will cover psychology as long as it is performed by a registered psychologist in the province where the services were rendered. Some plans will also reimburse the cost of a social worker.

A similar treatment is psychiatry. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health. The biggest difference from a psychologist is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medication, and much of their time will be spent going over your medication management. Psychiatry is covered under most provincial benefit plans and is not covered by private insurance.

Prescription medication may help

Some people tend to avoid medicating themselves, particularly when it comes to treating depression. For some reason, medicating for SAD can seem like weakness by those who think they are strong enough to cope. The truth is, when depression hits, it’s indiscriminate. It can affect absolutely anyone, regardless of their mental fortitude.

There is nothing wrong with taking medication to cope with anxiety and depression—that’s what they’re there for. There are many anti-depressants on the market today that have been studied thoroughly for safety and effectiveness.

Most health insurance plans cover prescribed medication, including anti-depressants. Medication can save your life for other disorders and ailments; it’s no different with depression.

Health insurance offers other support too

When you experience SAD, it’s easy to feel both hopeless and helpless. Medication and therapy are expensive. It can cost a lot of money to battle your depression, and health insurance can help offset those costs for you. If you submit your claims to your insurance plan, you will get a portion of your money back, and you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re taken care of.

Here are just some of the other health care features included in your health insurance that can help

GreenShield PRISM health insurance plans

Provides you with access to digital service options like The Health Depot that ‘brings the pharmacy to you’ while monitoring your medication safety and, when needed, to help you to optimize your medication therapy. It includes Maple Telemedicine online access to a Canadian-licensed doctor for medical care within minutes and 24/7 Beacon (iCBT program) no-cost digital therapy for mental health management

Manulife health plans with Vitality

Manulife health insurance plans with Vitality include HealthyMind, designed to bring awareness to your mental and emotional well-being by practicing meditation by using supported meditation apps, including Breathe that helps you take moments throughout the day to stop, relax, and practice mindfulness, Headspace that gives you access to a full library of sleep exercises for nighttime and audio experiences to make daytime happier with meditations, workouts, and inspiring videos and Calm to help you improve your well-being by promoting better sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, and developing more mindfulness

GMS health plans with LifeWorks

LifeWorks offers short-term, solution-focused support to help you on an individual basis to address your specific situation. You can get counselling for each challenge or issue that you are experiencing. If you need ongoing help, your counsellor will discuss if a referral to a community resource outside the program will help you, and work with you to access that support.

Say goodbye to winter blues with health insurance

If you feel that you need help* and want to know if you’re covered, contact our office today and we will help you any way we can. If you don’t have health insurance in place now, we can help you quickly apply for coverage. If you have a pre-existing condition, including depression, you should check with us to see if services or medications related to your depression will be covered under the plan you are considering – there are a wide variety of plans that will provide you with the benefits you need regardless of any prior health condition you have. Contact us at SBIS today at 1-800-667-0429 or 416-601-0429. Our business hours are Monday to Friday 8:45 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. eastern time.


* If you are in an emergency, in crisis or need someone to talk to, there is help: View Crisis Resources

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