Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Let's talk about weather

We've had a very long winter, more snow and, therefore clouds, than usual. Winter in Saskatchewan has never been off putting for me. Certainly I welcome the spring thaw and tulips like anyone else, but during the winter months, I generally find my days more than tolerable. I love walking in the crisp winter snow, breathing in the cool clean air. I enjoy the sun on my face, even when it isn't doingn much warming. 

Most winters we have less snow and far more sun throughout most of the winter months. This is the first winter I can honestly say I've felt those winter blues people talk about. We've had more sun the last few days than we've had for awhile. I can't believe how much more energy I have, how much more positive I am, and how my spirits are generally uplifted.

I  don't believe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I have had a bit of a taste of what it must be like.
When I was doing some research on this I found that the statistics suggested about 2% of the North American population were thought to have SAD in 2000, and this percentage has increased to the over 10% now cited in more recent studies.

Why am I interested in this? Because, as I write this (a few days before I post this) we have more snow....again as we sit at about 10 degrees below normal, with snow falling, and the never ending snow banks still waiting to thaw. That winter I have written about and enjoyed needs to go into its own hibernation for the summer.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Although there is no specific diagnostic test for the illness, it is understood that symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and overeating, especially of carbohydrates, with associated weight gain. When the condition presents in the summer, the symptoms are more commonly insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss, in addition to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and crying spells. In severe instances, seasonal affective disorder can be associated with thoughts of suicide. 

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder seems to develop from inadequate bright light during the winter months. Researchers have found that bright light changes the chemicals in the brain. Exactly how this occurs and the details of its effects are being studied. While those specific mechanisms remain undetermined, factors like low vitamin D levels in the blood are found to be associated with a higher occurrence of seasonal affective disorder and some other depressive disorders.MedicineNet.com

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