Spring has finally come to us in Buffalo, where your OnTheWall crowd is based. The magnolia in my patio garden is in full bloom, and daffodils are nodding everywhere I look. Many of you probably think that Buffalo is the snowiest place on earth, but we actually don’t get all that much snow most of the time. However, our winters last 5 months and are miserable and an unrelenting gray. Do you live in a place with gray seasons, and do they make you feel blue? There really is a syndrome for this called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – no really!). SAD is a type of depression brought about by gray and dull weather as well as a lack of sunlight and the relaxing colors of green and blue. “Affective” is just psychologist speak for the way in which we feel things.
Symptoms can include feelings of depression, lack of energy, irritability, long hours of sleep, and craving for carbs and weight gain. Sound familiar? Even if you have lived in this type of place all your life, you can be affected. Scientists say that a lack of sunlight may affect a part of our brain which produces serotonin. Bingo! Depression.
What can you do? Well, assuming spending winters in Florida or Phoenix are not options (although even a week in the sunshine can work wonders), maximizing your exposure to sunlight (being sure to wear some sunscreen, however), taking a Vitamin D supplement, and getting a light box to emulate sunlight are all suggested.
However, think about your surroundings. Dark blue is a color that relaxes the brain and lowers metabolism, while yellow stimulates optimism and Green and soft pastel colors like Pink can also have a positive effect. Grow some houseplants, especially plants that flower all year indoors, like orchids.
If you do feel continually depressed, however, SAD may not be the problem (or it may only be a part of it), so consult your doctor. When next winter looms, prepare for it, and feel better.
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