Winter's Limited Light Darkens Many Moods

The daylight hours are getting shorter, and you might be feeling saddened, maybe even verging on depressed. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is an extreme form of the wintertime blues.

About 20 percent of Americans start to feel down as the days get noticeably shorter. Psychiatrists and chronobiologists, who study internal biological rhythms, say that exposure to light, morning light in particular, is what makes the difference to mood.

According to the Washington Post:

“The role of light seems apparent when you consider some geographical differences in the winter blues ... [A]bout 3 percent of Floridians report having the blues, while in Maryland, the number rises to 10 percent. In Fairbanks, Alaska -- where the sun is up for only about four hours in December -- it's about 19 percent.”

So what can you do about SAD? The best place to start is by exercising and limiting your carbohydrate and sugar intake. The try brightening your environment -- open your blinds, or take a walk in the sun at lunchtime. If you have the resources, take a winter vacation. For serious cases, a light therapy box is the treatment of choice.

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