Winter Blues Got You SAD?

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Do you think that the warm weather earlier this week was such a tease? You probably got all happy and excited for unusually warm December. In fact, you were probably happier earlier this week than you were today. Today probably made you want to go curl up in a dark hole somewhere, and not come out until the temperatures reach 65+ again. 

You're not alone. There is a perfectly logical explanation as to why the "Winter Blues" are an actual, legitimate condition, but what exactly is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Mental Health America has a whole page of resources devoted to this topic. For starters, nearly 500,000 people are affected by SAD each year, from the months of September to April. It's a disorder that affects peoples' moods because of the amount of light seen with each season. SAD tends to appear in people between the ages of 18 and 30, and three out of every four people affected by SAD are women. What's interesting is that it affects people living in both hemispheres, but is very rare in people within 30 degrees of the equator. If you're a SAD-affected person, maybe a vacation to areas in the equator would be your cure-all!

If you are affected by sad, you probably are grumpier, want to eat more carbs, such as bread and pasta (or pizza, if that's your vice), gain weight, and feel sleepier during the day. The symptoms of SAD are very similar, if not identical, to symptoms of depression, but come and go with the seasons, says WebMD. Symptoms of SAD usually appear around the same time each year. 

To get a proper diagnosis, your doctor, therapist, whoever, will want to know if you've felt sad during the same season for at least 2-3 years, with your symptoms lessening with the arrival of warmer weather or a different season. Another big sign that it could be SAD, as opposed to regular depression, is the craving for carbs. Genetics also plays a factor into this, because if a close relative has SAD, chances are, you might as well. 

Experts and researchers are puzzled as to why SAD strikes with a change in seasons. In fact, they're not even sure of what the cause is! Luckily, there is a way to treat SAD. No, this does not mean stuffing your face with carbs and hibernating like a bear is okay.

The Mayo Clinic has several options for remedying this condition. One way is light therapy, where the affected person sits a few feet away from a box specially designed for exposing SAD people to bright lights. The bright lights can take the appearance of outdoor light, and can change your mood. Well, okay, maybe not completely change your mood, but rather the chemicals in your brain associated with it. Anti-depressants are also used. 

There are also ways to help symptoms of SAD without ever having to see a doctor too! Opening blinds in your room, sitting in areas with a lot of bright light, going outside (even if it's chilly out!), and exercise can help make you feel better. You can always take melatonin too, if you don't want to venture outside to the cold, cruel winter world. I also have one suggestion. Reading the site Hyperbole and a Half. If laughing doesn't help cure your winter blues, well, then I don't know what will. Maybe you're a person who would benefit from some of the actual cures listed above. 

Does the winter make you sadder than the fall? Or are you fond of cold weather, and get more depressed in the spring and summer? 

1 Comment

Who knew light had such an affect on people's emotions?
I wanted to know if florescent lighting had the same up lifting affect. An experiment done with mice shows that florescent light can be detrimental to health. Mice that grew up under natural lighting lived longer than those that grew up under florescent lighting.

Then I guess living in a dorm complex can be more unhealthy than I originally thought.

Here's the link with the mice experiment:

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