Seasonal Affective Disorder

"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." -From Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

We all have a relationship with sunlight and some of us are like human barometers. If the sun isn’t out, we feel less sharp, perhaps less social, tired and craving carbohydrates. We may have our own names for this phenomenon, such as winter blues or cabin fever. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an actual medical diagnosis which is a depressive-like feeling from the seasonal lack of sunlight. 
While an official diagnosis of SAD is best from a medical examination, most medical professionals say that Washingtonians can all benefit from the recharging rays of the sun. We all might be running a bit low, just like your solar powered yard lights, which struggle to even glow this time of year. 

While SAD is more common in younger women, the stresses of caregiving can bring it on or bring a reoccurrence. It often effects sleep patterns, especially the feeling that you want to sleep all the time. 

Suggestions for winter blues: 

  • Check with your medical provider if you are concerned that your experience is more than a temporary feeling of the blues. 
  • Add more light to your day. Turn on more light in the house. 
    (Turn them on this time of year by 3PM to maintain the light level BEFORE it begins to fade outside. When the sunlight begins to fade, melatonin (nighttime brain chemicals) is triggered in your brain, and you have a fight on your hands to maintain your serotonin (daytime brain chemicals) to keep you awake and alert. 
  • Use full spectrum or Ott lights. Some people swear by these kind of lights, which mimic the sun’s subtle color spectrum, just like in a rainbow and much better than the pink tinted florescent lights. 
  • Get outside. Even on a cloudy day, sitting on your front porch for an hour, you can get 1,000 Lux. If the sun comes out for the hour, your personal “Lux-meter” can reach the coveted 10,000 mark. But many people feel tremendous benefits with less light exposure such as 5 Lux. We have such personal chemistries!
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