Seasonally Sad? You're Not Alone

by Julie Alvin

My coworkers can attest to the fact that I am a little sunlight obsessed. Each day I check my Yahoo! Weather app to see what time the sun is going to set, giving a little fist pump for every minute of sweet, serotonin-supplying sunlight that extends past 5:00 p.m. (5:24 p.m. today, FYI!). Each morning I check how many days are left until daylight savings time starts (mostly so I can update my handy website, and no I'm not kidding). I treat the start of daylight savings time as though it's a national holiday, as in "So, what are you going to do to celebrate daylight savings time?" like it's freaking New Year's Eve. I've never been diagnosed with the seasonal depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (I've also never asked a doctor if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I certainly feel a marked change in mood when the days get shorter. According to the Canadian Mental Health Organization, I'm not alone.

New research by the organization suggests that 2 to 3 percent of the population suffers from S.A.D., while another 15 percent of the population experiences a mild form of seasonal depression they call "winter blues." The Canadian Broadcasting Channel reported the study, and posted a handy, interactive "Story of S.A.D." slideshow on its website to help sufferers identify symptoms and treatments. Concerned that you might be effected? Symptoms include difficulty waking up, low energy, difficulty concentrating, lowered sex drive, withdrawal from social situations, and the compulsion to binge eat carbs — that last one indicating that perhaps I suffer from S.A.D. 12 months out of the year. You can check out the full story on the CBC website.

Images: Getty Images; CBC