Here come the dark, dreary days of mid-winter. What is it they say, it’s always darkest just before dawn? Well for me, February is a dark time. I’m done with winter. It’s been cold forever, it’s been snowing forever. I’m tired of going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.
I’m dreaming of sunny warm days and dinner on the deck. The smell of hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill (hey just because I don’t eat them doesn’t mean they don’t smell great!) and a cold beer in my patio chair cupholder. Swimming in the neighborhood pool with my kids. Road trips south to visit my family and swim in the lake or at the beach. Heat shimmers over the pavement, fundraising car washes, driving with the windows open belting Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long.”
While I get a little grouchy about this time every year and cherish every sunny day no matter how cold, there are those who truly suffer in the winter. There is a medical condition called Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s characterized by typical depression symptoms of sadness, nervousness, irritability, appetite and weight changes, sleep troubles and just not getting much fun out of life, but it is seasonal and generally starts in the fall.
The prevailing theory about SAD is that it is caused by the lack of bright-light stimulation of the brain (via the eyes). In fact, studies have shown that use of a full-spectrum bright light in the evening (after sunset) to effectively fool the brain into believing the days are longer improves depression symptoms. It seems that light therapy is as effective as antidepressants in treating SAD.
My reason for writing about SAD this week is to let all of you know that grouchiness in the late winter is fairly common, but that depression symptoms that recur in the winter and significantly affect quality of life ARE treatable. Even those who are opposed to taking medication for depression symptoms should see their doctor because treatment with a bright full-spectrum light in the evening can improve symptoms without drugs. It’s estimated that 5% of adults in the US are affected by SAD. Bet you know somebody with it. Keep a lookout, OK?
I think we’re in the home stretch of this long, cold, snowy yucky winter. I’m sure Mother Nature has a few wallops left in store but March is on its way. Ash Wednesday is this week which means Easter is only a few weeks away. Before we know it the kids will have spring break and then it will be summer.
Beautiful green leafy summer 🙂
I can’t wait!