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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Updated on January 11, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very crap thing to have – especially if you don’t know you have it. And don’t for a minute think it’s one of those made-up illnesses; it’s not. Not even a little bit. Basically, you get massively, massively depressed during the winter. Ok, you can get massively depressed in the summer, too, but that’s usually called reverse seasonal affective disorder, and you can probably figure out why. Right? Good. So anyway, this SAD stuff is a major PITA and starts as soon as daylight starts waning to… well… not enough. It’s kind of hard to say what “not enough” is. It varies from person to person. I’m from the NE part of the USA, and never had any problems there. When I moved to Texas, no problems there, either. When I moved to Europe? Hello, major depression October – March. Well, not so much anymore, really, I’ve figured out how to deal with it. But first, I had to figure out that I had it. And that took 3 miserable years. Alright, 3 miserable winters. But the years were miserable anyway, believe me. I’m digressing, aren’t I.

Let’s look at the symptoms.

  • Depression -- Yeah, we’ve touched on this already. But I want to reiterate, cos this is the big sign. If you’re not normally a person who contemplates suicide, but suddenly start eyeing your wrists funnily come the winter months, you could be suffering from SAD.

  • Lethargy -- Ok, it could be mono, or any other number of illnesses. But if it didn’t start until winter, it could be SAD. We’re talking can’t-get-out-of-bed lethargy. Seriously. Not the princess eating bon-bons kind, either. The oh-my-God-I-wish-I-were-dead kind. Hey, it happens.

  • Antisocial behavior -- Yeah.. some of us are just naturally unfriendly. But even Oscar the Grouch would seem sociable compared to some SAD sufferers. We just want to be left alone!

  • Pigging Out -- Sure, we all have a tendency to put on weight in the winter. But people with SAD have cravings for sweets. I suppose it’s a subconscious plot to find energy somewhere, cos we don’t feel like we have any. Obviously, eating lots of sweets and living the hermit life while staying in bed all the time leads to getting piggy-like. You may need to lock that cookie jar up!

So, ok, I think I have this – what can I do?

  • Light Boxes -- These are specially made lights that produce way lots of light that normal bulbs couldn’t begin to compare to. Exposure to these for several hours a day seems to help 80-90% of sufferers. Keep an eye out for my next hub which will showcase some of these.

  • Anti-depressants -- I’m not a big fan of medicating for something like this, but hey, if you need it, you need it. The usual suspects are prescribed – Prozac, Lustral, etc. Best when combined with light therapy.

  • Da Shrink -- I hate shrinks. I really do. But if you’re on the verge of offing yourself and nothing else is working, please try a shrink. They can’t make it worse, and they might actually be able to help you.

Keep in mind, most people get the winter blahs. That is NOT the same thing as SAD. This is winter blahs to the 100th power. This is feeling like the world is ending for 6 months of the year. This is wanting to sleep 24 hours a day for 6 months, like a hibernating bear. If your blahs aren't extreme, you probably don't have it. And if it is extreme, you can get help!

xx Isabella


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    • profile image

      avanaanee 7 years ago

      nice information, thanks

    • profile image

      Yukoner 8 years ago

      by the way, one person mentioned "hiding in the Yukon" to avoid reverse SAD - but actually that's where it would chase you down the most - currently, the sun's gone only from about 1:30 - 3:00 am and it's barely dark in between. So this isn't the place to hide out, after all! And in a few weeks it'll be sunny for 24 hours straight - and HOT. We're all sweating up here.

    • profile image

      sunneeded 9 years ago

      Try a dawn simulator. Cheaper than a light box and I feel have helped me more.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      Guru - I've just done a hub on those. :)

      Stacie - Good point, I've noticed that when I don't work out I get it even worse.. something to remember!

      James - Yeah Philly can be gray.. have you tried the lamps? I just did a hub on them.. they do seem to help most people..

    • JamesRay profile image

      JamesRay 10 years ago from Philadelphia

      I live in Philly, and the sun rarely shines from November until April, so I get it bad.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      I grew up in sunny California, but now live in grey Seattle. I find that working out really helps me deal with SAD--I guess it's the endorphins. But, if I don't work out consistently, I get really depressed and sad and awful.

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 10 years ago

      The lamps have helped one of my sisters, who lives in Omaha.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      Wow.. never thought I'd meet a "reverse" seasonal disorder sufferer! Thought you were mythical! ;) I dunno if the lamps work for you.. I'd assume not, since there's plenty of light. I feel for you, Guru!!!

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 10 years ago

      Dear Isabella, I can attest that seasonal affective disorder is powerful. I have never been diagnosed, and it's not winter that gets to me, it's summer. The moment the equinox moves into autumn, the sound of the windchimes paradigm shifts and I feel human again. By human, I mean, finding happiness in little things, enjoying the wind on the water and the smell of coffee. During the summer, I hide inside with the drapes drawn, wishing I were in Patagonia or deep in the Yukon. Paradise is where I live, Miami Beach, in winter. The amazing thing is seeing the glow in the eyes of northerners here in January, the real seasonal affective disorder escapees...