We are all well into January and I have been debating about this blog entry since November 1st of last year. I hesitated to talk about my own personal battle with depression/anxiety because it is exactly that: Personal. However, because I read and hear about so many other people who are affected by these problems, I feel somewhat more comfortable sharing my own.
When I was back in college, I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affect Disorder. My college of choice was actually far north of the 45th parallel and was known for tremendous snowfall and icy temperatures. In fact, most winters were about 6 months long! Even though I loved school, I was often struggling to even put my boots on and get outside in the winter. I would crave carbs (and not just beer!) and I ended up gaining an extraordinary amount of weight. Eventually, when I began to talk with a therapist, she recommended light therapy. I used the light for a few months and did feel better.
However, I stopped light therapy after college. In fact, until I began light therapy again this season, I forgot how much this disorder affects my daily energy levels and actually increases my insomnia. I bought a light box in November and, when I am consistent about daily use, it makes a very marked difference in my life. The light box was $65 on amazon, contains no UV light, and simply sits on for 30 minutes daily while I read or use the computer.
As far as my mood, I can see a definite increase in energy during the afternoons and I don’t feel ‘heavy’ during even the most murky of snowstorms. Who needs Rudolph? 🙂 I also find that my circadian rhythm is better and I sleep more soundly.
If you are suffering from these symptoms, please consult your doctor and consider light therapy. Here are the basic symptoms of SAD:
Note: I am referencing the book, “Winter Blues: Everything you need to know to beat Seasonal Affect Disorder” by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD. I highly recommend this book as a source of medical information.
I hope that by putting my own story ‘out there,’ that I encourage one or a few of you to consider getting professional help. I know that I feel better being ‘real’ about my life. With a healthy combination of light therapy, pursued creative passions, exercise and good nutrition, I feel much better this Winter. However, I do very much look forward to Spring flowers!
Thank you, fans!