Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing. Rosenthal et al[i], define it as “a condition characterized by recurrent depressive episodes that occur annually”. Symptoms include “hypersomnia, overeating, and carbohydrate craving”. So basically, when it is cold and dark due to living in a Northern area in winter; one wants to get fat and hibernate. Make sense to me!
The researchers further note that this circannual SAD-ness “seemed to respond to changes in climate and latitude”. The first line treatment for SAD caused by exposure to cold and dark is, reasonably, to provide warmth and light. Hmm… tropical vacation??? Of course, they were thinking “light therapy”. When that fails to relieve disabling depression, treatment by professional therapies including medications is warranted.
While the psych establishment chooses to call this a disease, I suspect it only becomes a problem when we are forced to ignore the changing seasons and keep on trucking with our busy work-oriented lives. Due to my advanced age and current situation (pension income and a full freezer!) I am privileged to be able to simply give in to the dictates of nature. I sleep more, cook root veggies, soups and stews, sit where sunbeams come in through the window and dress warmly to go out on sunny days. On cloudy days, I read the seed catalogues and plan for next spring’s plantings.
Remembering last season’s bounty is also encouraging. Despite the struggles the garden had with limited moisture levels earlier in the growing season, the late summer rains, warm days and sunshine that peeked between the clouds created a bountiful harvest. It is as though the plants had been spending the earlier days of drought preparing for a tremendous growth spurt as soon as there was some moisture to do it with. We had no killing frost until late in the season allowing corn to ripen, root crops to mature into good sizes, and tomatoes to ripen by the tonne. Vine crops were especially productive. A late spring frost and the squash attack saved me from the workload of excessive cucumbers. All in all, it was a lovely season of growing and I found a great comfort zone in my little patch of earth.
Now I am quite enjoying this season of respite from the labour to rest and reflect.
[i] Norman E. Rosenthal, MD; David A. Sack, MD; J. Christian Gillin, MD; Alfred J. Lewy, MD, PhD; Frederick K. Goodwin, MD; Yolande Davenport, MSW; Peter S. Mueller, MD; David A. Newsome, MD; Thomas A. Wehr, M, A Description of the Syndrome and Preliminary Findings With Light Therapy https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alfred_Lewy/publication/16614070_Seasonal_Affective-Disorder_-_a_Description_of_the_Syndrome_and_Preliminary_Findings_with_Light_Therapy/links/5570f58a08ae2f213c223b40.pdf