do you suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder)?
November 9, 2004 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Now the northern hemisphere is heading for another winter, do you suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? [mi]

I get more and more tired as the weather gets colder. The tiredness affects my mood, and I often get mild depression because of it (my theory). Anyone else have the same seasonal lethargy/depression? The only solution I can think of in curing the problem is flying out to hot and sunny countries (I tend to holiday in winter months to alleviate the feeling). Anyone have other solutions?
posted by SpaceCadet to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
I've never been diagnosed with it, but my father has, and we react the same way to this time of year (also, grey rainy days). He uses full-spectrum lamps, which seem to help. I started walking everywhere, especially when it's sunny out.
posted by Eamon at 6:41 AM on November 9, 2004

A little site to work out your propensity for S.A.D.

I'm lucky - never suffered from it in London, and much less likely to facing my first winter in Barcelona. Fingers crossed.
posted by benzo8 at 6:49 AM on November 9, 2004

Response by poster: benzo, cheers for the link....I scored 96 on the sadness level (I love the button "Calculate Sadness"!) - just below the band of 100-300 which suggests I'm a very mild sufferer of SAD (I would say I was a little more than very mild). The problem with the formula is that it's not factoring in British weather :-)
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:57 AM on November 9, 2004

I suffer from it quite badly. I've always been told that light boxes can help. Anyone got any experience with them? 10,000 lumen boxes seem to be around £200, which seems like a hell of a lot to me.
posted by twine42 at 7:16 AM on November 9, 2004

Winter is my worst season. Some of it is the lower amounts of light, more of it is the cold, gray, rainy/snowy weather. A lot of it is the feeling that it starts too early and takes way too long to end. I get tired much more easily and I hardly go outside if I don't have to. I'm trying to push myself to get out when it's sunny, but I actually do better leaving the house at night if I need to grocery shop or anything like that. Somehow I expect it to be colder at night so it doesn't bother me as much. I've never been diagnosed with SAD, but I'm pretty sure I have a good dose of it.
posted by Melinika at 7:17 AM on November 9, 2004

I get depressed in the autumn, but only when the sunlight is at a certain low intensity. It hits me like a slap in the face, instantly. I'll be walking along and I dunno, a cloud will pass over the sun, light will dim, and bang, a wave of depression washes over me. Lucky for me, it usually doesn't last very long. For most of my life, fall has been the time of transition, from a kid going back to school, to a young fellar going back to university. I think a certain amount of anxiety has been tied to this season, and that's why it effects me.

Winter can be depressing too, and I find myself more tired, but I think it's just because it's an exhausting time of year (at least in Canada, where I'm from) because you're scraping snow off your car, walking takes ten times more energy as you trudge through snowbanks and try and keep your balance on ice, and all that shivering probably takes its toll too. In the winter, I just want to stay in bed all the time, because it's warm, because I dread the discomfort going outside in the winter brings, not because I'm depressed.

Of course I'm in Texas now, and it really has only two seasons, which really throws me off. Here, the summer is the exhausting time of year.
posted by picea at 7:34 AM on November 9, 2004

I scored a 261 - mild SAD, which sounds about right. I was annoyed that the page only worked in IE though.

I definitely miss the sun during winter, although I don't do much to try to mitigate my SADness. I do try to get out of my windowless office a bit more, but that's about it.

What annoys me about winter in NYC is more that it's so wet and warm. It doesn't feel like winter. I grew up in Michigan and got used to tons of snow and temps that are consistantly below freezing. If my moustache doesn't freeze when I step outside, I feel cheated.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:36 AM on November 9, 2004

ursus, it worked for me in firefox.

I got 288! or 144! Go me!

There's also this Meta thread.
posted by kenko at 8:02 AM on November 9, 2004

I find it helps if at all possible, and if you can schedule it, to wake up or get up later in winter - that is, when it is getting light. I don't mind working later and finishing when in the dark, but starting the day in the dark can make me very grumpy and tired.
posted by carter at 8:47 AM on November 9, 2004

I started walking everywhere, especially when it's sunny out.

A friend of mine read to me recently some suggestions from an article in regards to SAD: spending 20 minutes outdoors doing brisk exercise--a brisk walk or riding a bike--was the first suggestion, the second was to move your desk or table next to a window if you work indoors. So, maximize natural light exposure and exercise frequently.
posted by y2karl at 8:49 AM on November 9, 2004

When I was a kid I used to get Science news or something like that, and I recall reading an article about melatonin.

Basically it has something to do with endorphins and making us happy and... here's the kicker... it gets created more with sunshine. The effect is difficult to measure/quantify, though.

This would be corroborated somewhat by the light box ideas.

There's a sleep component to it as well, but nobody these days talks about melatonin and the idea pretty much never went anywhere.

As for me, I've always been a little less happy in the winter. It's not a disorder, it's just the way of things the way I see it. I'm lazier in the winter and I don't like going from sunset to darkness during my drive home. On the upside I seem to be going to bed earlier.
posted by codger at 9:14 AM on November 9, 2004

The light box I have has helped me. It's a lot of money for what it is, but it's worth it.
posted by stonerose at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2004

Build your own lightbox
posted by briank at 9:24 AM on November 9, 2004

Maybe it would help to go outdoors LESS in the wintertime. The less you have to encounter lightless nature, the less you are reminded that it is cloudy, and that it is winter. My strategy is to begin big projects around autumn, that will absorb me right into winter. This might be a good time to write a book, build a model train set, master a video game, or something else that will keep you indoors for the duration. Of course, I could be nuts.
posted by Faze at 9:24 AM on November 9, 2004

No, it's better to get outside. Even sunlight filtered through clouds is several times brighter than anything you're likely to encounter indoors.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 AM on November 9, 2004

My wife suffers from SAD -- but Paxil has helped quite a bit. Ironically, I seem to have the opposite disorder, so to speak -- the long nights, frigid temps, and snow energize me and make me almost giddy with delight.
posted by davidmsc at 7:33 PM on November 9, 2004

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