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Is SAD Targeting You in Winter Light Loss?

By Sandy Schroeder

You may be experiencing one of two very different experiences this winter. One image puts you fireside, sipping hot cocoa and snuggling under a cozy throw.  The other may catch you hiding out, snapping at everyone, and looking a lot like the Christmas Grinch.

If the second image rings a bell, you may have a type of depression known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder.

As the day’s natural light hides, your body may be reacting, mentally and physically, to the gloom. Doctors say it may begin with mild anxiety and depression that becomes inflated by the lack of light.

The good news is SAD responds to exercise, healthy foods and substitute sunlight. 

A friend of mine moved from a sunny climate to a colder one, and wondered what was happening. His friends were all glaring at him, and he was ready to jump out of his own skin. When he figured it out, he installed halogen lights and exercise equipment in his garage, and the SAD effects dropped back. He also used cognitive therapy, and more daily light treatments.

To see if you need to work on the issue, consider these signs of SAD.

Life Is Just One Big Blah – All of your regular perks lose their glow, as you just slow down and often pass on friends’ requests. Nothing really seems to work.

Sleeping Is So Easy – When it’s cold, the covers can be very inviting, but SAD may be settling in if you find you are getting up later and later and still feeling tired.

Everything Makes You Mad – Little irritations morph into big fights with family or friends. Everything seems a lot worse than usual.

The Carb Monster Hovers – You may adore those little cheese filled peppers called “poppers.” But now you really like them as you choose them first every time, sailing right by the salads and salmon that you know you should be eating.

Brain Fog Moves In – You may feel yourself losing mental sharpness, forgetting more things, often losing your focus, and feeling very sluggish.

Something Feels Weird – If you can usually read your own mind and body, you may now feel out of step as your head hurts, and your body feels weighed down.

Calls Go Unanswered – Your friends keep calling, but it just seems like too much trouble to pick up, go out, and hang together.  This is a sign of depression and it can be a sign of SAD.

If these signs all fit together for you, see your doctor and a recommended counselor for ways to fight this form of depression. SAD is very treatable with exercise, diet, and substitute light. You just have to give it a good shove, and then smile!


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