Seasonal Affective Disorder (It’s SAD)

It’s hit that time of the year in Chicago where the cold and dark become noticeable. I was lamenting to a friend the other day that my heart always gets a sinking feeling around this time of year. It may as well be winter already, the sky is getting dark at 5:30 p.m. Things will just get worse, where it will push back until when it gets dark at 4 p.m. And the extended cold and dark will last until at least March, and probably even more realistically, April (when we often see our last snowfall in Chicago).

I wouldn’t say I suffer greatly from seasonal affective disorder—I probably have a mild dip in my mood comparable to what a lot of people get. As winter drags on and especially on grey days sometimes I do start to feel despondent. I definitely experience the symptoms listed here, though: the loss of energy and drowsiness and the craving for carb-heavy food.

This article is interesting in examining some of my own techniques for dealing with SAD. They say here a vitamin D supplement doesn’t always help, but I take one every day anyway because I’ve had a few doctors recommend it in general to ward off depression. I also have a light therapy box but I have never found it to be that effective for me. This article suggests that perhaps I don’t have the right type and haven’t been using it during the right hours.

I feel like what I most relate to is practicing the Danish art of “hygge.” The things that make me feel better in the winter are envisioning coming home to curl up with my heated blanket, cuddle with my cats, and relax reading or watching movies in the comfortable little nest of my own home.

Light in general—not necessarily the light box–is also hugely important to me. I like some kind of festive lighting like Christmas lights, candles, or colored lamps, all of which really lift my mood. I never realized I was so Scandinavian!

I do love snow so it always helps me cheer up when it starts snowing, too.

Sometimes I think moving to a place with more sun would help lift my mood. I’m sure then I’d have to cope with the loss of friends and family I’ve built here over the years, which would probably be harder to deal with than the SAD. I guess I’ll keep lighting candles. It’s good to be able to adapt to your environment.

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