Opinion

Good reason why people are SAD

The fog lifted and the sun appeared and coaxed me out for a walk one afternoon last week. It felt invigorating to breathe in the crisp air and get my legs moving after moping around the house for a couple of days. I encountered a neighbour and his dog out enjoying the day as well, and our discussion turned to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter. Symptoms usually build up slowly in the late autumn and winter months and are much the same as with other forms of depression.

This affliction usually occurs in places with long winters or where there have been periods of bad weather that have kept people indoors and socially withdrawn. A good example may be two weeks of steady Langley rain during a hockey lockout. This can bring on many of the signs of SAD — less energy, loss of interest in work, sluggish movements and hopelessness.

It’s hard to believe just a lack of sunshine can bring about these changes in personality. It is interesting to note that research shows that SAD occurs more often in women than in men. Now, how many of you guys just said, “Of course, that’s her problem lately, Seasonal Affective Disorder, now it makes sense.”

Reading this column can be very informative.

Now just suppose the little lady has been down in the dumps lately. She has been on your case about taking down Christmas lights or doing some random repairs or renovations. She appears unhappy and irritable. Armed with new knowledge about SAD, the next time she starts up, simply say, “Hey you grumpy Gus, it sounds like you have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Why don’t you put on your boots and coats and mittens and get out in the sunshine and walk those blues away!” You might be very surprised at her reaction.

Further research tells us that SAD was first identified in 1984. I think I’m very glad it wasn’t brought to light in the 1960s, because it can usually start to develop during the teen years. Their symptoms are less energy and the lack of ability to concentrate.

I can see my Dad coming home, finding me and my brothers languishing on the couch watching cartoons and asking, “Why aren’t the chores done?” Suppose one of us had answered, “Cut us some slack Dad, we have Seasonal Affective Disorder and we just don’t have the energy to complete our tasks.” There would have been another type of disorder in the home that would have had a much longer recovery time.

There is a very bright lamp that you can buy that mimics light from the sun. By sitting in front of this for 30 minutes a day, your depression will be gone in three or four weeks. It’s sort of like when Superman was exposed to Kryptonite and had to retreat to his Dome of Silence for awhile. It just takes time.

Couple this news about SAD to another report that tells us that optimistic people have lower blood pressure and healthier enzymes in their blood than those who worry excessively. You have to be a cheerleader.

Belt out a few choruses of The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow, tell some jokes, and kick them outside. Your family will thank you for it. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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