Don’t be Sad!
SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. As we enter into late autumn and the winter months, with the shortening of daylight hours, this has an affect on us all. Many people find they sleep and eat slightly more and dislike the dark mornings. For some however the symptoms are much more severe and cause disruption to their daily activities and stress. These people have SAD. The latest research, which is quite dated (1998) shows that in Britain about 0.5 million people suffer from clinical SAD with around 5 million of us having milder symptoms in varying degrees (know as the Winter Blues).
SAD is a depressive illness and is caused by the lack of bright light in winter. With the dark mornings, waking in the absence of bright light suppresses the production of Melatonin – a substance that makes us drowsy. Exposure to bright light also appears to increase the production of Serotonin, which creates a feel good factor within us. So low levels of Serotonin are known to be a cause of depression.
One thing that has been proven to help with SAD is light boxes and there are various companies offering these e.g. www.lumie.com.
A more radical approach for residents of a sun-starved remote village in Norway, was a mirror system to bring natural light to their mountain valley home and liberate them from darkness that envelops them for six months a year.
Rjukan had been deprived of direct sunlight for six months every year, until a local artist, Martin Andersen, revived a century–old idea to reflect it with mirrors, providing the villagers, who were wearing sunglasses for the occasion, with their first winter sunlight!