Instead of posting my experiences with Santosha (Contentment) this week, I’d like to share about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
SAD affects many people all over the globe. Symptoms include feeling sad, depressed, or anxious, fatigue or decreased energy, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, changes in weight or sleeping patterns, and in severe cases, thoughts of death or suicide. SAD typically affects people who live farther from the equator in areas that experience large swings in hours of daylight, or lack thereof in the winter.
Apparently doctors don’t know what causes SAD, but some think that the lack of natural sunlight causes upsets in circadian rhythms and the serotonin levels in the brain. I agree with this 100%. I grew up in Florida, the Sunshine State, and never had an issue with SAD while living there. I lived in Germany for 3 years and didn’t have much of a problem there, but to be honest, I was on anti-depressants for the majority of the time there and stayed on them through February of 2013. Last October was when I first noticed I was suffering from SAD.
In my experience, SAD is more severe than the winter blues. I was depressed. It came on fast and hard. I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything. I was just sad. All the time. I was feeling bad for about 2 weeks before I decided to order what some people call a “Happy Light”. It’s basically a high-intensity fluorescent lamp of 10,000 lux or more. It does not have UV rays so sunburn is not an issue. I started sitting in front of the lamp in the morning when I woke up for about 15 minutes and gradually increased the time up to 30 minutes. I stopped at 20 minutes for about a week, but even 20 minutes wasn’t enough when the sun started setting before 5pm.
Every day I sat for 30 minutes in front of the lamp, having breakfast. The transformation was almost immediate. I felt better right away. It was more than worth the $70 or so I paid. I also started taking a liquid Vitamin D3 supplement with my breakfast and dinner, which I believe also helped.
I’ve already started sitting with my happy light again this year. We haven’t had as much sun (in the greater Seattle area) as I’d like and I want to get out ahead of SAD this year and not succumb to it this year like last. I’ve also started taking my Vitamin D supplement again.
If you’d like to read more info about SAD, check out this website.
Here’s the Happy Light I use.
And if you want to read more about the importance of Vitamin D3, I’d suggest you check out this site. (#2!!)
Finally, this is the particular liquid supplement I use. Why liquid? It’s easier absorbed by the body. Many of the supplements we take in pill form aren’t digested fully.