Feeling SAD? You aren’t Alone

>>sadladyI don’t want to brag, but in terms of time spent under a blanket on a couch, I am an extremely high achiever. While some people spend the cooler months taking to the ski slopes or bundling into extra layers for a run, my winter sport of choice is sleeping. And I’m not going to lie—when watching the Olympics (from the comfort of my sofa, naturally), I’ve been known to wonder why I don’t have a gold medal.

Because if we’re going to choose a pastime that most accurately reflects the general populace’s winter pursuits, which will it be: curling or most episodes of Scandal viewed without a bathroom break? Personally, I’ll pick the one that doesn’t involve a broom.

Unfortunately for my Olympic dreams, experts say that my winter malaise might not signify the adorable hibernation I think it does. Every year more women are diagnosed with SAD— Seasonal Affective Disorder—and experts say it’s undermining the health of ordinarily happy people.

Characterized by a lack of energy, depression, and unexplained behavior, SAD affects people living in places where the weather gets cold and the days become short. Scientists believe the lack of daylight might affect a chemical in the brain called melatonin, which is used for regulating sleep cycles and mood. Although many people get the blues in the winter, SAD is a diagnosable medical condition that can debilitate those who suffer from it.

So how do I know if my love for spending days cocooned in fleece qualifies as SAD? Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say that if symptoms persist day after day and interfere with your ability to work, it may be SAD. Treatments include light therapy, exercise, and even psychological medications.

Given the climate North Carolina has experienced recently, it wouldn’t be a surprise if more people have begun to suffer from SAD. Although our days have gotten more than an hour longer since the shortest day on December 21, frequent snow, sleet, hail, and storms have worn down our collective patience with the weather.

The good news is that we have entered the home stretch! There are only three weeks left until spring blows in, festooned with flower buds, tadpoles, and (achoo!) pollen. The bad news is… there are three more weeks. Although my yard has started to fill with evidence of hyacinth and tulips pushing up their little heads, the forecast for the next 10 days still has temperatures dropping into the thirties.

What’s your best advice to beat the winter blues? Have you bought a light box or spent time at a tanning salon to keep Jack Frost at bay? Or if you are more like me, what TV show have you binge watched in an attempt to forget the slush, chill, and lack of sun?

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