To Every Thing, There is a Season

Primitive societies lived by the seasons. Literate ancient realms had calendars to mark the time, but they clearly knew when winter was upon them and the crops started dying. Perhaps we carry some genetic market within us that responds to seasons. We feel different when summer turns to fall and there is a nippy coolness in the air. We become happy-go-lucky in spring and summer due to the increased daylight and the therapeutic warmth of the sunshine. Modern societies have inherited some kind of negative response to a lack of light and the condition is known as SAD. Not everyone has it, of course, but it is being diagnosed more and more frequently. We usually associated with northern European countries, Iceland, and Greenland. We find it commonly in the US as well, particularly Alaska. Not surprisingly, this illness can cause a high rate of suicide in certain areas of the world—especially areas far from the Equator. Humans become depressed when it is dark all the time. I suppose rainy climates are also prone to this affliction. So, what to do?

The first task to watch for typical symptoms and seek a diagnosis. Do you feel blue in winter and become less interested in your daily tasks? Does your mind wander and you fail to focus well, and not just on Twitter? You might clock in too many hours of sleep at night—anything over nine hours would be suspicious. You recognize you have a problem, and now you should seek help. Your doctor can run some tests and check here to see if your symptoms match those of SAD, or season affective disorder. He might prescribe bright white therapy and designate the type of box you need to purchase for daily use. You will no doubt sit in front of the device for a half hour or more per day, usually early in the morning.

Don’t panic. SAD goes away with a change in seasons. Who doesn’t feel more alive and alert when spring comes after a long, cold winter. Those who love winter sports are exceptions. For the small percentage of the general population who feels off from December to April, there is treatment. This condition is often mistaken for clinical depression and the symptoms are quite similar. The difference is the root cause of feeling down. If it is a lack of light, it is probably SAD. You are low in energy and lethargic; you overeat and tend to gain weight. Others will describe you as moody and irritable. For most sufferers, the light therapy works wonders. Your doctor will determine the intensity of the light and the length of exposure for your case. If the treatment is effective, the symptoms will diminish and you should feel like yourself again. Your old motivation will be restored.

Light therapy is said to improve serotonin and melatonin levels in the body and restore normal body rhythms. Patients will no longer dread winter and long for spring and summer.