Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Norman E. Rosenthal | Go to book overview

TWO

All About SAD

What exactly is SAD? What are its symptoms? Who tends to get it and when? How long does it last? How does it affect the way people function at home, at work, and in their relationships? How does SAD relate to the “winter blues” or “February blahs” that so many people complain about? In this chapter I will introduce some key elements of these conditions as well as a few people who have suffered from them in their mild and severe forms and triumphed over them.

We now know that the great majority of the population experiences some seasonal changes in feelings of well-being and behaviors, such as energy, sleep, eating patterns, and mood, to a greater or lesser degree. At one end of the spectrum are those who have few, if any, seasonal changes. Then there are those who experience mild changes that can easily be accommodated in the course of their everyday lives. Yet another group finds these changes a nuisance—not worth taking to the physician, but troublesome nonetheless. This group may be suffering from what is commonly known as the winter blues or February blahs. At the far end of the spectrum are patients with SAD, whose changes in mood and behavior are so powerful that they produce significant problems in their lives.

Such changes were well expressed by Jenny, who suffers from a typical case of SAD. She has observed that she feels like “two different

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