Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wellness -- S.A.D.

October 2,2012

  With the onset of October we can pretty much bid a fond "Adieu" to  Lovely Lady Summer. The nip in the air during the afternoon and downright cold mornings and nights signal the arrival of Autumn. In this part of the Northern Hemisphere it also means each day is shorter than the last by about 3 minutes.
Now, you say, that's not much, but when you realize the the vernal equinox is June 21st and that was 102 days ago  that would be  about 306 minutes..... well, you get the picture and can do the math.
Bottom line is the day is significantly shorter and will continue  so until December 21st.

  With this shorter day and accompanying longer night many people notice a change in their mood, feel less energetic, less able to maintain a  focus,  and find they are a bit more irritable than usual.  If this is you, than you are not alone. A condition  called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD,  may the cause.

SAD is thought to relate to seasonal variations in light. A “biological internal clock” in the brain regulates our circadian (daily) rhythms. This biological clock responds to changes in season, partly because of the differences in the length of the day. For many thousands of years, the cycle of human life revolved around the daily cycle of light and dark. We were alert when the sun shone; we slept when our world was in darkness. The relatively recent introduction of electricity has relieved us of the need to be active mostly in the daylight hours. But our biological clocks may still be telling our bodies to sleep as the days shorten. This puts us out of step with our daily schedules, which no longer change according to the seasons. Other research shows that neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain that help regulate sleep, mood, and appetite, may be disturbed in SAD.

What are the Symptoms?
SAD can be difficult to diagnose. Generally, symptoms that recur for at least 2 consecutive winters and may include:

change in appetite, in particular a craving for sweet or starchy foods
  • weight gain
  • decreased energy
  • fatigue
  • tendency to oversleep
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • avoidance of social situations
  • feelings of anxiety and despair

Research in Ontario suggests that between 2% and 3% of the general population may have SAD. Another 15% have a less severe experience described as the “winter blues." SAD tends to begin in people over the age of 20 and is more common in women than in men. Recent studies suggest that SAD is more common in northern countries, where the winter day is shorter. Deprivation from natural sources of light is also of particular concern for shift workers and urban dwellers who may experience reduced levels of exposure to daylight in their work environments. People with SAD find that spending time in a southerly location brings them relief from their symptoms.
Light therapy is also a less expensive alternative, but a beach in ..say... Florida... yeah, I'd like a prescription for that!!!

Take care and be well.

--Information obtained from the Fort Frances Branch of the Canadian Mental  Health Association
-- Photos courtesy of Google Images.


The material provided on this site is designed for information and educational purposes only. The materials are not intended to be a self diagnostic and/or self treatment tool. I encourage you to use this information as a tool for discussing your condition with your health practitioner.                                                            


  1. This is a great post with lot's of information. Living in the northern hemisphere and having such long winters I'm surprised more people don't suffer from this disorder.

  2. I agree, Monica, but perhaps people don't realize that the symptoms are in fact a disorder that can be, at least, alleviated somewhat with a physicians assistance.