The Reality of SAD

(Oh, dark misery!)


I’m going to admit something to you.


When I first heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I may have laughed out loud. I was in college at the time and I could not imagine anything more ridiculous than a sort of depression that came and went with the months of the year. I mean, sure, NO one loves endless grey days, but it’s not something to cry about! . . . Right?


When I went on antidepressants for a brief stint after C’s birth, I was reminded of SAD when they advised me to wait until Spring before attempting to go off of them. Apparently, winter months are not a good time to wean off of these medications because of the lack of natural sunlight. Okkaaayyyy…


And, people? I am EATING MY WORDS. Because, you see, I now strongly suspect that I am one of those individuals who does suffer, to some degree, from SAD. Oh, the irony!


When the days grow ever-shorter through late November and December? I mope. I stare out the dark kitchen window when I cook dinner and– I’m not joking here– I cry. I feel lost and hopeless.


On grey, drizzly days, when everyone else talks about snuggling in blankets and eating soup, I grow pale and vacant. I don’t feel cozy– I feel trapped and depressed.


I find the endless snow and ice and slush of winter to be oppressive. I don’t actually mind the cold– some of my favorite days are bitingly cold with glaring sun in a piercing blue sky– but I can’t handle the overcast, monochrome skies.


I don’t want to be melodramatic here. I most certainly manage to function (and without medication) throughout the short days of winter. But I can’t say it doesn’t affect me. It does. A lot.

(Sunshine! Yay!)

And, as I mentioned earlier, it has nothing to do with the cold. I actually prefer being chilly to being overheated. But, oh, I need light. I crave that sunshine so very much.


Just yesterday, as I suddenly saw sunlight spill in through our bay window, I tweeted excitedly:


It is hard for me to even express the joy that surged through my body at the sight of that light. We haven’t seen a whole lot of it lately, what with that blizzard and all. I felt energized and bubbly and… happy.


So, my friends, it with a wry smile that I tell you that, yes, I do believe I suffer from a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m going to be doing a little more research on the subject and see what I can find out about natural treatments and management. I certainly don’t think I need any funky doo-dads to cope with this, but I feel like it’s time I own up to it.


Are any of you familiar with SAD? Do you feel affected by the shifts in light and seasons like I do?

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21 comments to The Reality of SAD

  • mlearley

    While I am not familiar with SAD, I definitely believe it’s true. I’ve been dealing with some anxiety and after reading your post, I think it might be worse due to the winter months. However, the last two days it’s been warm enough and sunny when we get home from work that we’ve been going on a family walk. I think that’s helping some with the anxiety. I heard once that Washington State has a high depression rate compared to the rest of the country, makes sense since it’s so rainy and grey there most of the time.

  • Jennie

    My sister uses a light box daily during winter. It helps keep her sane. It’s very real.

  • I now struggle with depression year-round, but it’s always worse without sunshine. SAD is real!

  • CanCowGirl

    I most definitely have SAD. I don’t treat it right now aside from taking vitamin D, but have contemplated getting a light box as well. They aren’t terribly expensive and apparently help a lot!

    • I take Vitamin D too, when I remember. (*ahem*) I do think it helps! I’ve heard good things about those light boxes, but I’ve never tried one or known anyone personally who has used one. Worth looking into!

  • Laraba

    I think I’ve done better than usual this winter because we’ve had more snow than usual. THe light bouncing off that beautiful snow perks me up. I have had issues with SAD in the past…not debilitating, but real.

  • Sonja

    Growing up in Louisiana, then moving to Massachusetts at 18 was a huge shock for me. I had SAD really bad when I lived in MA. It is REAL! I was totally amazed at the difference between winters in MA vs KS! People outside of New England don’t get it :(

    • You know, I do NOT remember being impacted by this as a young girl/teen in the northeast. But then I lived in the South for awhile… I kind of wonder if that didn’t impact me and make it hard to deal with now. Hmmm…

  • Sarah

    We’re in Wisconsin. I struggled with it to some degree in college, then I married and moved to South Carolina with my military husband. That winter was so wonderful! I could get out, there weren’t endless gray days, I didn’t have to shovel for 2 hours just to get my car out of the garage…so, so lovely. Once we moved back, especially after kids arrived (I quit work to stay at home, so I didn’t get out on cold, dark winter days), it started to affect me more again. This year has been really bad – I have no energy to do anything, I cry (or want to) for nearly no reason, the thought of more winter makes me want to scream!

    I’ve taken a B-complex vitamin for several years now in the winter, which does seem to help. I make it a point to open up the curtains even on gray days to let in as much light as I can. It helps, some.

    • Oh, I always have curtains thrown wide, too, Sarah. I don’t even use blinds or shades in my bedroom (we have no one who could peek in back there), because I treasure any morning light I can get. It does help, even if only a little! :)

  • Amanda Wade

    I definitely think I suffer from it. Since I’m originally from Canada, it was not good. I love being outside, and getting sun. And after I learned to do that, well I can’t get enough. I sit outside every day and get some sun if I can. Now that I’m living in Texas, it’s been pretty much a non-issue. I already have a tan this year lol. I see you already take Vit D, which is what I was going to suggest. You might consider upping your dose in the dark months. And making sure you’re eating really well would be a good idea too. All those vitamins and minerals in veg and fruit will definitely help you feel better :)

    • That’s a good reminder, Amanda. I think I eat quite well year-round, but there’s little doubt that there’s greater access to a wide array of fruits and veggies in the warmer months here. I’ll need to be more cognizant of what all I’m getting (and what I might need to supplement!)

  • Janet Ulrich

    I too am affected by SAD. I have found that halogen lights, even just one at my desk, helps immensely. Much cheaper than a light box.

  • Though I’ve never been diagnosed, I definitely suffer from this and it is very real. I grew up in the south and didn’t know such an affliction even existed. After moving from the south, we lived in Oklahoma and I worked outside the home, but didn’t realize until we moved to Colorado (after OK) that sunshine was so GLORIOUS! I hadn’t realized how much I was truly effected by the lack of it in winter. Fast forward to now – our third winter in dreary, overcast Ohio and I’m nearly beside myself. I don’t even recognize who I normally am.

    The last two winters have been dreadful for me. Last winter my husband was deployed (from December to the end of June) and I had a horrible time coping, even though it wasn’t our first deployment. This winter has been a tad better, but, not significantly. I have all of the typical symptoms and some days truly do feel hopeless. However, I do understand why I feel the way I do.

    There are a couple of things that I do that help me notice a difference, but just enough to make me functional, not “normal”:
    ~ Take a huge dose of arctic cod liver oil daily – I take 4,000mg of a high quality brand that also has an appropriate amount of vit. A to help me absorb it better.
    ~ Take a B-complex
    ~ Make myself get out of the house. I’ve committed to going to the gym and I’m also training for a half marathon. (This has probably helped more than anything else).

    Thank you for writing about this and helping bring awareness to it. Also, sorry for the novel length comment!

    • Thank you so much, laura, for sharing your journey and what you’re doing to help with it– I truly am so appreciative of the tips and suggestions. It kind of staggered me how many people have responded to this post– I sort of thought you all would think I was a nut-case!

  • [...] year, I shared with you all some of the struggles I have during the winter/low-light season. While I admit that I once scoffed at the idea of seasonal affective disorder, I now realize that [...]

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