In Chicago alone, we are currently heading for a new record total snowfall that rapidly approaches the 7 foot (213.36 cm) mark. A large number of residents are finding it more and more difficult to deal with these inclement conditions.
To top it off, there is also a significant rise in "winter blues" amongst the citizens.
Between November and February, daylight becomes an almost unexpected premium.
Days are shorter and nights are longer. During this season, some people reportedly feel very melancholy. Mood swings like these have been called everything from winter blues to seasonal or winter depression, or the more scientific term "Seasonal Affective Disorder" (S.A.D.).
This term was first created in 1984 by noted psychiatrist and author, Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal. According to Dr. Rosenthal's research, winter depression changes the body's mood centers due to shorter daylight hours and a marked absence of direct sunlight.
Most S.A.D. patients typically experience prolonged periods of isolation and loneliness. The fact that many people go through this same disorder during this time of the year may actually provide for some a sense of comfort and assurance that they are not alone.
One of the most effective and clinically proven treatment for SAD is light therapy, which has been shown to benefit some 80-85 percent of SAD cases.
Light Therapy And Geographic Influence
Simple as it may sound, the treatment actually involves more than just turning on a light and sitting beside it while twiddling your thumbs as you wait for that renewed energy to power up your whole well-being.
Most standard light bulbs emit only 200-700 lux (a lux is a unit of illuminance). On average, you need a minimum of 2,500 lux to ease SAD symptoms. By contrast, a bright and sunny day can emit as much as 100,000 lux.
Light therapy may be the best treatment for SAD as far as symptoms are concerned. However, addressing the root causes of the condition may involve both antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy treatments especially for those with severe symptoms.
Studies have shown that the incidence of SAD increases dramatically as you go 30 degrees of latitude further north or south, as the condition is virtually unheard of in the tropical countries. A movement or vacation trip to these countries in the equator may sound impractical but can definitely improve your mood and well-being.
Watching movies that feature warm, sunny, summery climates show demonstrable improvements in mood. Research shows that any film with clear blue cloudless skies, palm trees and an absence of snow should qualify for a movie therapy.
Keep in mind though that SAD doesn't just happen in the winter or colder seasons either.
Do you know anyone who suffers from SAD?
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