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It Is That Time of Year... Seasonal Affective Disorder. Homework for the Hounded.

Updated on October 24, 2014

Who Is Afraid of the Dark?

Not me! Well not the dark, per se, just too much of it. Gotta have my sunlight!

More Than the Winter Blues

I have made more poor life decisions in the month of November than any other month. I am prone to abruptly leaving a job, ending a relationship or alienating people close to me. I am a little slow, so it took me years to connect the calendar with my behavior.

As the days get shorter and sunlight gets more scarce, many people in the United States are prone to a mood spectrum from the "winter blues" to severe depression. Some of us have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, experience nausea and headaches and overall lack of energy. Bipolars (me) are especially at risk.

Geography plays an important part. According to Wikipedia, the state that has the highest percentage of its population affected is New Hampshire while Florida has the least. This make sense since the sunlight is more precious the further north one lives. Some Nordic countries see over 50% of their people suffer.

The Good News

There are ways of fighting and minimizing the affects of this disorder. Over the past fifty years I have drawn on the experts and my own experience in doing my best to avoid a major shutdown in the winter. So guess what. I have decided to share some of these with you.

Life Is Made of Faith and Trust and Pixie Dust

— Peter Pan

Make Appointments

The more despair you feel, the more difficult it is for your mind to call up your coping mechanisms. If you have made appointments with yourself, committed to a routine, it is a little easier to stay on top of your game and on top of your mood.

Make an appointment with Sunlight. I worked retail for a while with no windows in view. I would often leave home in the dark and leave work in the dark. I had to purposely find time to soak up some sun. I committed to going outside for lunch. I went to parks or sat on my porch during days off. It was not easy, but I had to get all of the light I could get.

Make an appointment with Exercise. Commit to daily walk. Go to the gym. Play with the dog. Join a bowling league. Break out your old Jane Fonda Tapes. Do whatever it takes. BTW, our pets can suffer during the winter, too. My dog always gains weight in from November to March, so getting them out with a walk can help you both.

Make an appointment with Laughter. Laughter not only boosts your mood, but boosts your heart rate. One researcher, William Fry, says that one minute of laughter is equal to ten minutes on a rowing machine. Laughter also effects blood flow, the immune system and helps us sleep. So make an appointment to watch those Barney Miller reruns, The Big Bang Theory or The Three Stooges. Laughter really is the best medicine, sometimes.



If you know that you are susceptible to SAD, be prepared for it. There are things that you can do in the Fall that may just keep you falling into the dungeon of gloom.

Surround Yourself With Color. Red, orange, yellow and green bring energy, joy and happiness. Other colors bring a sense of calm and serenity. Surround yourself with the mood colors you know you will need in times of depression. If possible decorate not just your home, but your car and office desk.

Be Able to See Life. Winter is not only a time of darkness, but of hibernation and less life activity in nature. The trees are bare, the grass is brown. This can make us feel lifeless, too. Fish tanks, green plants and even hamsters and turtles can make that life more present for while we wait for the blooming of Spring.

Tell Friends and Family. I know for me, that extra phone call or text can be a life lifter. Let people know that you often have trouble at this time of year. They can also keep you accountable to your plan and look out for signs of trouble. Often people around us notice our mood changes before we do.

Talk to Your Doctor. If you are already on anti-depressants, sometimes your doctor will want to temporarily increase your dosage for the winter months. He or she may have other options to help with your depression.

Dr. Oz Says...

Peppermint Oil helps with sadness and depression. It also gives a quick energy boost, so you might try putting on a dab or taking a few whiffs.

Fluorescent Light is very bright and can change the melatonin in your brain.

Chili Peppers boosts energy and enhances circulation. Can be a quick pick me up snack.

Gingko Biloba helps with awareness and concentration.

Be Outrageous

This is the time that I wear my red socks and my duck sun visor. It is difficult to be blue when I break out in Goodbye Yellow Brick Road while sitting in my cubicle surrounded by dozens of other blah tan four foot walls. Have pie for dinner. Shock your kids by doing a line dance in the living room. Jump in the pile of leaves. Do whatever it takes.

May You Live Every Day of Your Life

— Jonathon Swift


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    • russinserra profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Inserra 

      3 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Thanks, jodah. Thank you Carolyn. Always nice to get good feedback.

    • CarolynEmerick profile image

      Carolyn Emerick 

      3 years ago

      Hi Russ, thank you for a great article here! You provided so many tips for beating the blues, it was really helpful. Upvoted and shared to my Hubpages feed :-)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub Russell. This is a subject that effects a lot of people not just those who are bipolar, though I'm sure that's even harder. There is definitely a correlation between sunlight or lack of and depression, lethargy etc. My wife suffers chronic fatigue and sleep apnea so she is greatly effected by less sunlight, dreary weather etc.

      It used to surprise me when I would get a comment as soon as I had submitted a hub for publication too. HP would say it could be up to 24 hours for approval, but as soon as you hit publish, someone was reading it. Your followers must get notification immediately, approved or not. Voted up. Have a great day.

    • russinserra profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Inserra 

      4 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      I'm new and confused. How could you comment when the hub hasn't been approved, yet, and it is showing no reads? Thanks for the feedback, though. Positive reinforcement from writers I respect really mean a lot.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is the real deal for sure. I spent a year in Alaska, and those months where the sun never rose were the longest months of my life. Great suggestions here.


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