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

By Norman E. Rosenthal | Go to book overview

FOURTEEN

Polar Tales

The days are growing rapidly shorter and the nights, only too
noticeably longer…. It is this discouraging veil of blackness,
falling over the sparkling whiteness of earlier nights, which
sends a vein of despair running through our souls.

—DR. FREDERICK COOK, Through the First Antarctic Night

I have frequently been asked, “Have they studied SAD in Scandinavia? Don't they get a lot of it over there?” In recent years, since our work from the NIMH first appeared, Scandinavian research groups have done considerable work on the subject. Before then, however, there was little or nothing about it in Scandinavian medical literature. Given the degree of light deprivation so far north, this gap was surprising. Were Scandinavians particularly resistant to the problems of SAD? Had their researchers simply overlooked its importance? One Swedish psychiatrist provided a witty answer: “Either everyone there has it,” he replied, “or no one does.”

Since then, thanks to research by several Scandinavian researchers, it has become apparent that approximately one in three adults in the far north is affected adversely by the winter season. Icelanders might be an exception, possibly protected biologically against the dark days, as I mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, Dr. Andrés Magnusson, a psychi-

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