Reading the Wall Street Journal, Bright Ideas for Treating the Winter Blues by Melinda Beck, reminds me that many people are in the throws of SAD.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, affects an estimated 6% of Americans, causing depression, lethargy, irritability and a desire to avoid social situations. It can also create an urge to overeat, particularly carbohydrates. As many as 15% of people in the U.S. may have a milder version that includes only some of these symptoms. The incidence rises along with the distance from the equator: Roughly 8% of Canadians, 10% of Britons and as many as 20% of Scandinavians suffer from SAD this time of year.
Two Theories About SAD:
- One theory suggests that the reduced light disrupts peoples' circadian rhythms, the 24-hour biological clock that governs waking, sleeping and many other body functions.
- Another theory holds that the darkness wreaks havoc with neurotransmitters—brain chemicals that affect mood. Some experts believe the reduced sun exacerbates vitamin D deficiencies. It may also be that SAD has several different causes.
I believe both theories hold truth, but the second theory hits the nail on the head. Those of us living in many cold climates have serious Vitamin D deficiencies. The article explains many ideas on how to temporarily alleviate the symptoms.
When I have the burning desire to lay in a tanning bed, I know I'm at rock bottom. (Yes, I'm there right now - living in Minnesota!) Fortunately, my logical, reasonable brain reminds me: NEVER lay in a tanning bed unless you want permanent damage to your eyes and to end up with cancer = no thank you!
- Get outside and move - regardless of the conditions
- Take a minimum of 2,500 IU of Vitamin D along with a small square of dark chocolate (long-term + short-term comfort)
- Avoid carbohydrates (short-term comfort)
Another noteworthy statement in the article is that women are 3 times as likely to be affected by SAD than men. I'm wondering whether this may result from the fact that most women are socialized to be more empathetic than men. If scientists were to conduct a study on caregiver and non-caregiver personalities, I believe natural caregivers will be proven to suffer from SAD most.
Because the majority of caregivers spend more time indoors caring for their home, children, spouse, pets, and other dependents. Caregivers, by nature, care for others and spend minimal time caring for themselves.
Take time today to care for yourself until the snow is replaced with sunshine and flowers - it's bound to happen one of these days :)