Step 3 to Conquer SAD This Winter: Therapy

Therapy comes in many forms – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), mindfulness, pet therapy, sex therapy, and so on. Oh c’mon… (safe and responsible) sex is important! But the traditional and most effective therapy to conquer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) would be CBT, DBT, and mindfulness. Warning: this is a long blog post but I will thoroughly explain everything you need to start therapy even if your wallet is feeling a little empty.

The most common question people ask me is, “What’s the difference between CBT, DBT, and mindfulness?” Well, think of it like a cupcake.

CBT is the cupcake, the core component. It connects your thoughts to your emotions, and actions, which will help you learn what went wrong in situation X, Y, and Z. Knowing what went wrong will help you overcome future depressive episodes and anxiety attacks.

DBT is the icing on top because it adds extra skills to CBT. It helps problem solve through issues you have in your relationships with others. I mean in the extreme mood swing type way, which is why it focuses on regulating your emotions, managing your interpersonal relationships, and applying skills to prevent huge “blow ups”.

Lastly, mindfulness is the cherry on top. It teaches us how to focus on the present using techniques like meditation and mentally scanning different body parts to feel different sensations. Mindfulness is helpful because anxiety will fast forward us into the future, whereas depression will hold us back in the past. Neither anxiety or depression focuses on the present, which is where mindfulness kicks in!

I can hear it already though… “I don’t need it yet.” or “I don’t have money for that right now.” Well I have secret life hacks to curb costly therapy appointments as long as you promise you’ll finally reach out to use therapy or find a therapist!

If you have some cash to spare…
Click here to find a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker in North America. You can bargain with a therapist (that you like) who will usually work on sliding scales. This means that they have price ranges that usually start at $80-$100 CAD per hour. I personally think that counsellors are most effective if you already have a family physician or psychiatrist who is monitoring the medication side of things.

If you don’t have cash to spare BUT you have insurance, look for a psychologist or psychiatrist on those websites…
Click here, here, or here to find a psychologist or psychiatrist. Your insurance plan should have some coverage for therapy as long as it’s a licensed practitioner like a psychologist or psychiatrist. Counsellors usually have a Masters degree in Social Work, but unfortunately, insurance companies don’t recognize that as a “licensed practitioner”. A psychologist focuses more on CBT whereas a psychiatrist will focus more on medication management. That being said, you might be able to find a psychiatrist who is also invested in diving into therapy with you too!

If additional money for therapy is a challenge…
Research individual and group therapy programs at your local hospital. They may offer subsidized individual or group therapy sessions. The downside to this is that there is usually a long waiting list. Some local community centres also offer drop in sessions too. I’m not sure who would be in charge of those, but I have seen some available in Ontario.

When all else fails…
There are CBT, DBT, and mindfulness workbooks that you can find in a bookstore or online at Amazon. You can do it alone but I think it’s more helpful to do this with someone you trust who is familiar with your anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder etc. Having a second person there will help objectively guide you through real life situations that might be emotional and even painful.

Then there is the trusted Reddit bipolar forum…
I’ve said this before – I love Reddit. It is so supportive and helpful there (click here). When I was at my lowest point, I found the perfect medication cocktail with the suggestions they gave me in there! There are a lot of different smaller communities within larger communities you can research to fulfill your needs.

All I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone in this and help is always available. Talking to your friends and family, and medication alone, won’t cut it. I really really really hope that you’ll take my suggestions and find some extra support using therapy.


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