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… :)

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  • I feel the same way – you can’t help but feel a little down when it gets dark so early (plus cold!), but the holidays are a warm glow in the midst of that. I don’t have any really good strategies but I definitely go to bed earlier in the winter!

  • I grew up in Washington state so I was used to the gray all the time. But once I went to college back down in CA and came home in May to a dark, gloomy few months, it was so depressing!!!

    But lately it has been hard with the sun setting so much earlier. My kids get home at 3:30 and I feel like it’s 5:30. Plus they barely have time to play outside :(

  • I am also one of those rare people who LOVES winter. In fact, I firmly believe that I may have seasonal affective disorder during the dead of summer – July and August. I never want to leave the house, I eat waaaay more, I sleep waaay more, I have a hard time getting excited about doing anything….all classic symptoms.

    It’s exceedingly rare to have summertime SAD, but I think it might be worth pursuing with my doctor next year since this past summer was much tougher than the summer before.

  • I would have to say that I am also self-diagnosed with SAD. I hate winter, and I get really really tired even with a lot of sleep. I’ve heard there are lamps that can help, so i might go check those out.