S.A.D.: Symptoms and Treatment
|Winter woes |
Autumn - a lovely time of year.
Frost has kissed the leaves, turning them lustrous shades of red and
yellow. In the mornings, the ground is white with frost, and the
grass is brittle beneath your feet. Warm afternoon sunshine, chilly
evenings beneath a sky bright with stars, perhaps a harvest moon,
and, if you live far enough north, the brilliance of the Aurora
Borealis (northern lights.)
Halloween, Thanksgiving, the autumnal Equinox, the change back to
standard time. October, November, and the days becoming shorter as
we move toward the winter season. A lovely time indeed, but for some
it means the coming of winter depression. This depression has many
names - cabin fever, winter blues, the doldrums. The official name
is seasonal affective disorder, or S.A.D.
For some people, the depression is very mild, nothing but a
slight lessening of enthusiasm, a sensation of sadness as autumn
passes and winter approaches. For others, however, S.A.D. means
several months of severe depression, a depression so bad that it
This is not a minor ailment affecting only a few people. Severe
S.A.D. is said to affect as many as ten million Americans every
year, most of them women. If you suffer from any of these symptoms,
you may be a victim of seasonal affective disorder:
A need for more sleep even though you are sleeping well
A craving for high carbohydrate and/or fatty foods
Increased light in your home.
Install large windows,
especially those facing south. Let the sunshine in. Keep the drapes
and curtains opened wide. Use full spectrum fluorescent lights
wherever possible. These are about as close to natural sunshine as
you can get using artificial means.
Go for walks.
Get outside whenever you can when the
sun is shining. Go for walks. Take up some winter outdoor sports if
possible. Skiing or tobogganing. Got kids? Help them build a snowman
or take them skating on an outdoor pond.
Take a vacation in sunnier climes.
If you are lucky
enough to have the cash and the time, get away during the winter.
Escape those short, dark days. Exchange them for long sunny days
Get lots of exercise.
If it's too cold to go out to
exercise set up an indoor exercise plan for yourself. There are lots
of videos available for all ages and all situations.
Sure, the winter blues leaves you
feeling tired, craving sleep, but keep going if you can. Avoid long
afternoon naps and sleep only your regular hours.
Watch your diet.
Seasonal affective disorder often
produces a craving for foods high in carbohydrates, or for fatty
sweets, foods like potato chips or doughnuts. Avoid them. Eat lots
of fruit and vegetables. Stick to leaner meats and avoid those
If you feel stressed out, try some of the
stress reduction exercises, or try meditation.