NaBloPoMo: The S.A.D. Season

Once again it seems I am lacking the energy to post anything. My NaNoWriMo has fallen behind rather a lot, despite the promising start. I’ve been trying for hours to think what I could write for the blog today to no avail. I think I know what the problem is though.

Here in Finland, Winter is well and truly upon us. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with winter.

I love it for the beautiful snow. The frost. Christmas, of course.

But I hate it too. I hate it because it is dark and cold and gloomy.

I think the dark is what gets to me most. I suffer from a mild form of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Which is a ridiculously convenient acronym.

For the most part, sufferers of SAD are affected in the winter months. For a minority, it occurs during the summer. For me it always seems that as the days get shorter, the symptoms arise. And here in Finland we have pretty short days in the winter. I lose my energy and motivation. I want to sleep more and mope around being unproductive. Some years are worse than others, but even within each season there can be variation. My mood may vary from one week to the next, one day to the next, even within the day.

I generally find that if I have a particularly bad day the following will be a good day, and vice versa.

There are many suggestions for how to ease the symptoms of SAD. Perhaps the most widely known is light therapy. This involves having a light which simulates sunlight. These light boxes, however, tend to be on the expensive side. Not something I can afford on a student budget. And as their effectiveness is debated I don’t feel it’s worth splashing out on one at the moment. The premise makes sense though – if the shorter days seem to contribute to SAD, then stimulating a longer day could feasibly relieve it.

As SAD is a form of depression, other suggested means of treatment include medicines, such as anti-depressants. These are only effective as long as they are being taken, and I’d rather not be dosing myself on drugs for the rest of my life. It works for some, but I don’t feel it is right for me.

Various types of therapy are also means of dealing with SAD; group therapy, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy. I’ve seen a few different therapists in my life, and whilst they have managed to help with things, the fact that I seem to have been back to another within only a couple of years after each is testament to the fact that, at least in these cases, they are not long-lasting. As with the drugs, there affect only lasts whilst the treatment is ongoing.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t try these things. If you suffer from SAD, try to find what works for you and go for it. My only advice would be to try to avoid turning straight to the drugs. Anti-depressants tend to just suppress things, which isn’t very good in the long run.

What do I do to help? Well, as I said, I think mine is quite mild… I cope with it by trying to ignore it, I guess. Not as in, pretend it isn’t there, but try to work around it. I take vitamin D supplements, because of course there is less sunlight in winter. I don’t know if it makes a difference, but seeing as vitamin D is important for other reasons I’ll keep it up anyway. I try to get enough exercise, eat well and not get too much sleep. I try to keep my routine going and keep myself motivated.

Some days it feels like an uphill struggle. But no matter how hard it gets, I’ll keep trying. Because I have to.

Do you or anyone you know suffer from SAD or another form of depression? What do you/they do to manage it?

16 thoughts on “NaBloPoMo: The S.A.D. Season

  1. I don’t think that I suffer with S.A.D., but I do share similar symptoms of depression. My depression and anxiety is heightened if that is politically correct, when I am going through some sort of situational stressor. I too, do not want to have to take drugs for the rest of my life, so I pray every day for freedom. I am so deeply grateful for this post. Thank you.

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  10. Like the post, JoyfulLady. I think a little melancholia and slowing down is in accordance with the natural flow of things; however, depression and depression coupled with SAD is…well…bad. I know.

    • Glad you liked it 🙂 Yes, I agree that it is partly with the natural flow, but like you also suggested, knowing it is natural does not help when it becomes completely crippling and makes any sort of activities seem to be impossible. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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  12. I think that it is possible to look at SAD from another perspective.

    Modern work and social life is built around a constantly unchanging daily pattern. Regardless of where we live or the time of year we are meant to follow a standard day. Before industrialisation, and even more so with globalisation, We must ignore seasons when there is profit to be made!

    I want to sleep more and mope around being unproductive.
    This is exactly what nature intends! No point in wasting energy when it is dark and there is little to hunt or gather out there.

    So SAD is a problem that is man made.

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