Holiday blues and winter funk, seasonal affect disorder (SAD), are both biological and situational in origin. Melatonin, the hormone which regulates sleep, body temperature and the release of other hormones, is produced during periods of darkness. People who experience SAD have high levels of melatonin which impacts mood and gives rise to depressive symptoms. These symptoms may begin in the fall and continue through the winter months sometimes lingering until spring. When the weather turns cold and days become shorter, activities move inside and we have less exposure to the sun. Phototherapy is a direct method to improve levels of melatonin. Pulling back heavy drapes, opening the home to natural light and getting outside, weather permitting, are natural ways to address melatonin levels. Changing light bulbs to full spectrum bulbs in existing lamps and fixtures in home and office may be sufficient to lift the funk. Phillips, Verilux and other companies offer full spectrum lighting options which can supplement exposure to natural light and will reduce the body’s production of Melatonin.
To be continued … next topic, “managing expectations”