I don’t know about you, but these gray gloomy days of winter are really kicking my butt. Sun, please come out!
I, like as many as 20% of Americans, have Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the apt acronym SAD. It’s winter depression caused by the shorter days and lack of sunlight, and according to the
of Family Physicians affects women four times as often as men. It can cause fatigue, low energy, weight gain,
and other symptoms including not wanting to go out as much as usual. American Academy
So what to do besides power through the inevitable yearly darkening? I beat back my SAD with light therapy. There are a number of companies selling special full spectrum bright light boxes, everything from standing ones to table ones, from ones that look like iPads to visors you wear on your head. We are lucky to have the original light box company, Sun Box (sunbox.com), right here in our area, in
I’ve got two of their boxes, one a kind of
utilitarian tubular thing I use at home when I’m eating breakfast, another a
clever one that looks like a regular gooseneck desk lamp for the office. You
only have to use a light box for a half hour a day. I know light therapy works
because of the difference in the way I feel in September if I forget and
haven’t started using the light by then.
My light boxes met their match when I lived in
more than a decade
ago. It was one of the top three most
polluted cities in the world at the time, so even when the sun was out, the
days were gray and you couldn’t get any sunlight. My SAD became entrenched and year-round and
ultimately it was part of the reason I came home early from our Tianjin,
stint. I know I could never live in a
part of the US
with more gray days than where I live now in the mid-Atlantic. (I’d probably do well in the southern states,
but I like my four-season climate.)
Now my Sun Boxes keep my energy level up and my spirits, too, in winter, though I won’t lie to you, it’s still not my favorite season. I also toss back some extra vitamin D in the winter. If you think you suffer from SAD don’t blow it off or just tough it out; you can get help. You should see your doctor, and definitely consider light therapy. It can make a significant difference.