Is anybody SAD?

I really hate winter and I don’t even live where it gets cold-cold. Everything is too dark, brown and gray blah.

So this year I thought I’d finally beat the winter blahs, whether you’d call it depression or just not seeing much reason to get out of bed, whatever that is called.

I took on a project and made sure I was too busy to notice that it was winter. But then I finished my project and now on day three of blah-ness (well, day one was a headache and day two was not all better) realized I’m sunk. Dammit.

However, as far as I’m concerned, winter ends March first so I only have 1.5 more days of it. :slight_smile:

Anyone else prone to SAD or SADishness, at least? What do you do about it? I usually just mope through it although I know that doesn’t make much sense.

Quite the opposite: I prefer cold, grey overcast days with light snow. That’s the perfect weather for me.

I’ve got it bad enough that if left to my own devices, I’d spend all of January sleeping 12+ hours every day, and never leave the house. First few years away from home at college were rough - I only left my dorm room to get food and occasional showers.

Since then, I’ve improved my winters with medication, light therapy, exercise, and cultivating better habits. This year was my best winter yet, thankfully. While I wasn’t at 100% in the depths of winter, I was functional enough to get a solid start on writing my doctoral thesis.

Every year I have a “YAY it’s spring!” day where I take care of everything I put off during the winter. During my worst years that day came in mid-March, and I’d (say) go to all my professors and figure out which classes could still be passed. This year that day was in mid-February, and I (drumroll please…) got a haircut, bought stamps, and replaced my library card.

I can blather endlessly on what works for me, but I’ll wait to see if anyone is interested in the details first…

I moved clear across the country to get away from the dreariness of the midwest. It physically hurts me to get out of bed on dreary days.

I do fine with the long, long winters at altitude in the Colorado mountains. But I think that’s because of two things.

  1. We have REAL winter. It can actually be exciting. Feet of snow. Not just grey dead landscapes. (I grew up in Illinois.)

  2. Colorado gets some serious sun. Winter is no exception to this. At altitude it’s exaggerated with deep blue skies.

With that said, I know my Wife and I won’t retire up here. Or won’t stay that long after retirement. At 56, it’s already getting to be quite a bit of work.

I am interested in the details.

I white knuckled my way through a lot of winters before figuring it out. Thought I just wasn’t a winter person! Then I was on Wellbutrin for smoking cessation, through one season and was stunned at the difference in how I experienced winter. I’m on it every winter now. It’s a very subtle difference, but I’m not really dragging myself around through my days anymore!

Another thing that really helped me was to take a 6 wk vacation from my internal to do list, instead favouring creative pursuits. Stacking up things you ought to be doing, but aren’t, is kind’ve a recipe for failure/depression. At least for me.

So for five wks in the dead of winter, I drift from thing to thing an tolerate some disorder. Definitely improved winter for me.

When the sun shines, temps rise, the to do list bounces right back and I find myself suddenly motivated to jump up and get shit done!

Good Luck to you!

Seriously, is there a kind of reverse-SAD? I absolutely loathe hot weather, and I love the cold. The colder the better.

I need to take vitamin D during the Pacific Northwest winters, or I get very SAD indeed.

Unfortunately I also get a sort of reverse SAD in the summer, and there’s nothing to take for that. Except more air conditioning than anyone wants to pay for.

I’m happy our many years long drought is apparently over.

Inspired by this thread, I’ve asked exactly that question over in GQ:

Take vitamin D and get a happy lamp.

Every doctor I have ever seen since moving to the Seattle area 7 years ago asks “are you taking vitamin D?”

My chronic depression is year-round, but is somewhat alleviated on bright sunny days, regardless of season. But since I’m somewhat homebound, my endocrinologist put me on vitamin D supplements. I have to take 5,000 IU per day to get me up to an acceptable level.

I haven’t tried light therapy.

Alright, I’ll try not to blather too long. Here’s what works for me, in rough order of importance:

  1. Good personal habits and support. Part of the reason I went so far off the rails in the first few years was because oversleeping and not feeding myself led to some nasty vicious cycles. Sleeping in to 11 AM was never much of a problem in the summer, but during the winter that meant missing a third of available daylight. That, in turn, led to a spiral where I’d stay up a bit latter, sleep in even more, to the point where I’d sleep through nearly all daylight hours. Similarly, if I don’t feed myself I’ll become even more grumpy and reclusive.

My now-wife is a morning person (even in the winter!) and makes sure I’m awake, caffeinated, and fed by 7 AM. That’s enough to keep me on the rails well enough to show up to work and handle routine tasks. Still, I’ll be easily discouraged, and outside daylight hours I only want to do mind-numbing activities until I can go to sleep. (My self-serving speculation is that this was an adaptive behavior for some of my northern European peasant ancestors.)

  1. Medication. I start taking low-dose Wellbutrin in the late fall, and gradually increase the dose to maximum in January. I’ve had problems with some generics (more side effects, uneven positive effects) so now I only take name brand. More than anything, it gives me motivation to deal with every day problems.

One personal litmus test I’ve figured out is how I deal with minor failures. I’m in grad school now, working on a biology PhD and failed experiments are extremely common. In winter, if I’m not sufficiently medicated my response to failure is a strong urge to give up and immediately crawl in to bed. In summer, or in winter with sufficient medication, my problem solving mode engages and I’ll start figuring out what can be salvaged from the failed experiment, how to figure out what went wrong, and how to successfully repeat the experiment.

Interestingly, I find that the side effects increase as the days get longer. The dose that works in January with few side effects will be too much in February, and completely intolerable in March – I won’t get any sleep, and I’ll be super jittery and irritable. I’ve learned to recognize thresholds for increased side effects so I can figure out when to reduce my dose.

  1. Light therapy. I’ve got a blue LED “light therapy” gadget on my desk that I use every morning while I drink my coffee, and sometimes in the early evening in the depths of winter. I set up a dawn simulator by my bed, with some “smart” flood lights (these PAR38s) programmed to turn on gradually in the morning. At full brightness those lights exceed the recommended 10,000 lux light therapy dose. I also try to get as much natural light exposure as possible, by getting outside or sitting next to a sunny window.

At night, I limit exposure to the blue light that your body uses to sync itself to daylight hours. After ~8 PM I’ll turn off overhead lights, and only use a few dim, warm table lamps in each room. I use f.lux on my computers, and I’ll avoid using my smart phone.

All together, I’m going to sleep regularly around 11 PM, and waking up around 7 AM even on the weekends.

  1. Exercise. Personally, I loathe “working out”, so I instead find ways to fit moderate exercise into my daily routine. I’m close enough to work that I can get there with a long walk (~30 minutes at a fast pace), so I do that whenever it’s not pouring or icy. That also gets me more exposure to natural light, which is helpful even on an overcast day. But it also helps independently of light exposure, e.g. if I walk home after sunset.

I’ve suffered from SAD for as long as I can remember. So what did I do 17 years ago? Moved to Ireland :smack:

Yes, there is recognized summer SAD. Not very common, although I have it. I have always hated summer, even as a kid. I’m happiest at home with the blinds drawn on a sunny day.

Link to article from Psychology Today Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD in the Summer | Psychology Today

Thank you, lazybratsche. And everyone else, too.