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S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

 
Posts: 211
Location: Missoula Montana
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I am sure we have all heard of this, but in case you haven't, here's the scoop.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is from lack of sunlight and shorter days.  People become depressed from lack of light, mainly sunlight.  With the inversion over the Missoula area, I am wondering if people are affected by this?  As the days get shorter, nights longer, and less and less sunlight, what are some things we can do to help boost our energy and moods without sunlight? 

10 years ago and living in Miles City, I thought using a tanning booth was the answer.  Now I think that's a bad idea.  Not sure that it really helped back then anyway, just damaged my skin.

The last two places I lived were in Clearwater, FL and Salida, CO, both of which had ALOT of sunlight and much longer winter days. 
 
steward
Posts: 5376
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
2020
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I used to get really glum and depressed in the winter. When I found out about Seasonal Affective Disorder, I adopted a strategy to deal with it.

I adopted the philosophy that during the winter the most important activity in my life is to get sufficient sunlight. Therefore, every day that there is sunshine at about noon, I strip off as much clothing as is legally possible, and I lay out in the sun for at least 20 minutes. Whatever else is happening gets put on hold if mid-day sunlight is available.

It helps if I lay on the south side of a building, then I get the heat from direct exposure to the sun, and I get the heat reflected from the building. There is a nook where I most like to sun that helps to minimize the wind. It can be cold outside in the winter. Whenever possible, I sun directly, and try to avoid getting sun through a window, cause no telling how the window messes with the sunlight. But if it's really really too cold to be outside I'll take sunlight through a window.

They say that sunning increases vitamin D content in the body which is very helpful for fighting viruses. This summer, it seemed super-important to me to have a high vitamin D content in my body, so I sunned all summer long. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so I'm going into winter with an ample supply. I expect that I will increase my sunning time this winter.

It seems to me that there may be many other types of other chemical reactions that happen in the body when it is exposed to sunlight. We might as well take advantage of the free energy that is waiting to be used.

The other thing that really lifts my mood is running. For me, the endorphins kick in with a run as short as 600 feet. So if I'm feeling blah, and there's an ice-free area, I'll go for a run.

Anyone else have experience with seasonal affective disorder? How do you deal with it?
sunning-winter.jpg
sunning in the winter for optimal happiness
sunning in the winter for optimal happiness
 
pollinator
Posts: 129
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
25
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When I lived in Fairbanks I used to know an old timer that would sun himself for 15 minutes a day any time the sun was out in the winter. For a month or so the sun is just too low on the horizon to get any rays at all but other than that, -20 degrees? Didn't matter to him. Probably helped that he had lived there since the 70s and knew enough about the trade offs...

Also one year my boss bought us all sad-lights which are supposed to emulate sunshine while you work at your bench. They sucked.
 
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having been in Florida most my life I took for granted lots of sunshine, my first job out of college took me just west of the Mississippi and six weeks during the winter with not one day of sunshine I was in deep depression, I only lasted there 14 months 10 days and 2 hours and back to Florida till just a few years ago. for some reason maybe its climate change I have not had extended periods of time here  with no sunshine at the western edge of the smokies but make it a point to get out in the sun when it shines during winter.
I think that maybe herbs like ginseng have been a help. but having been through past experiences I'm aware that there is such a thing as seasonal affective disorder and for me it sure was a very real thing.
 
pollinator
Posts: 120
Location: SE Indiana
92
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I definitely have problem with sunshine withdraw. It's not the shorter days that get to me so much as our extended periods of gray. Days, weeks at a time it seems like when "the sky won't snow and the sun won't shine". Bright artificial light helps a little bit but has absolutely no lasting effect. Nothing can be done about it except run outside during the intermittent bright periods. My house is secluded enough and my tolerance for cold strong enough there are no restrictions on exposure. I love the feel of warm sunshine simultaneous with cold air.

It might be climate change related to some degree as I remember we used to have winter days of sun on snow, that's very rare now days and I miss it. We generally have plenty of sun in the summer, enough that I hide from it the afternoon but I am the proverbial morning person anyway.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I had it bad growing up.  I have a learned a few tricks, besides moving south.  First, get outside as close to sunrise as possible.  Ten minutes of early morning light with no glasses, looking as close to the sun as comfortable will reset your internal clock.  Cut the carbs, the blood sugar roller coaster greatly increases risk of depression in general.

The sad lights were SAD.  Light technology has really improved, but we are still more worried about the cost than the health impact.  I find a small halogen bulb in a desk lamp does as much as some expensive fancy LED.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2728
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I had a bad period of depression when I was a student. SAD was a contributing factor, and I have been aware since then of low mood in winter.

Getting sunlight is important, but so is simply being aware of your mood and recognising when you are getting low. Exercise, fresh air and sunlight do help.

This year I have switched my daily commute to an ebike. It’s far enough that I wouldn’t routinely ride there and back with a normal bike. With the ebike it is a positive joy. And more exercise than sitting in a car would be.
 
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