Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

I have self-diagnosed myself with seasonal affective disorder. A very mild case of it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I get depressed, but the season certainly affects me.

I get a little sad every day at 4:30 pm watching the sunset in my office, no matter how beautiful it may be. Traffic is unnaturally heavy for everyone to be driving in the dark. Running errands seem strange in the dark and I feel rushed, like I need to get home soon. I tend to fall asleep on the couch at 9 pm because, why not? It’s been dark for five hours.

Do you ever feel that way?

I think if most of us are honest, we all have a little big of seasonal affective disorder in us. (Except maybe a select few like my dad and friend Catherine, whose favorite season is the dead of winter.) But for the rest of us, the sun gives us energy and life and feel its affects when we don’t see it as much. Where you live also makes a big difference. I’m used to a sunny North Carolina climate, and I can’t imagine living in the Northwest Pacific where it is rainy and cloudy 8 months of the year. I know this disorder would be amplified in an environment like that.

Some suggestions for getting out of the darkness funk include going outside in the middle of the day, even if it’s cloudy. You could also try light treatment, where you sit in front of a UV lamp for a few hours a day. Exercise always produces endorphins, so find ways to get moving when you can. If you really need help, there is always medication you can take.

But for me, despite my natural tendency to get sad with the circumstance of the season, I can honestly say I don’t mind this time of year… and that’s because of the holidays. Thank goodness for the holidays. November and December are the darkest months, and without the distraction of Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, this time of year would be so much harder to bear. But instead we have the delightful anticipation of a season filled with family and coziness. Giving and giving thanks. Togetherness and reflection over the past year. The holidays are the bright hope in the darkest time of the year, and for that I am so, so thankful.

Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder this time of year? Do you have any ways to remedy or treat the symptoms?

PS – I was reminded of the movie Darkness Falls when I wrote this post. Has anyone seen that movie? If you haven’t, don’t. It’s an awful movie about a scary tooth fairy. I advise against seeing it… :)