Nothing against Scotland, but this is not a poster one would necessarily aspire to sharing. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects five percent of the population, with 10 to 20 percent experiencing sub-syndromal symptoms. Its prevalence increases in the winter months of the Northern Hemisphere with the increase in distance from the equator, and women are four times more likely to suffer from SAD than are men. The Lighting Research Center out of Troy, NY describes the symptoms of SAD as an “increase in feelings of depression and a reduced interest in all or most activities, typical of depression, together with such atypical symptoms as increased sleep, increased irritability, and increased appetite with carbohydrate cravings and consequent weight gain.” The symptoms disappear with the onset of spring and summer.
Treatment for SAD involves the usual suspects: proper diet, attention to sleep hygiene, exercise, socialization… as well as exposure to sunlight when possible, with the added boost of light therapy when natural daylight is in short supply.
I don’t think I suffer from SAD, really. Maybe I’m in the sub-syndromal fifth of the population. But I can definitely feel the pull toward hibernation. To make it worse this year, I’m still hobbling around on my not-quite-healing-right sprained foot, so the prospect of getting out and about is even lower than normal for me. But I know I’ve got to do something to combat the “winter blues” or I will all too easily succumb to the torpor.
I hope those of you in sunnier climes are enjoying sunnier dispositions to match. Maybe it’s time for me to migrate.