SADS is back

From thisTo thisin only a week.

I can't believe it. It seems like I just terminated with my SADS patients for the spring and summer, and already the calls are coming in. The days are short, the nights are cold. And the bloggers, like Master of Irony, are worried.

But come on, Chicagoans! The sun peeks out every so often, and although it might be cold, the wind doesn't always whip up, it's not supposed to tomorrow, and we live for tomorrow in our neck of the woods.

Get out and jump in some leaves. Put on a heavy sweatshirt, get a pair of warm, fuzzy, boots at Target. Black ice in Indiana? Who cares! (Well, those of you who commute to or live in Indiana do, I suppose, sorry about that).

So a quick check list on battling November thru March seasonal depression:
A brisk walk every day (or if you're me, a bike ride when there's no precip or wind chill). Just do it. Bundle up and do it. Don't worry what you look like.

Turn on the lights when you get home in the evening, all of them. Pay the electricity, but spare the depression. Ditto about the heat in the house, if only for an hour or two, get warm.

Make soup. Big pots of thick, wonderful soup.

Don't think about the weather. Think about anything but the weather.

Make it your business to get out and visit someone who is shut in.

See how much it might cost to buy some used skis, or snowshoes, a sled or a tray. If you can afford it, consider an exercise club membership. There should be some deals coming up.

Take hot showers.

Get creative, not drunk. Make your holiday cards if you can, and make them meaningful.

Don't even think about spending a lot on presents this year. Everybody gets it that times are hard.


Learn to whistle.

Call a friend. Play a game. Write a book. Move the furniture.
This isn't a comprehensive list. I know there's another one on the blog somewhere. I just thought you should know, it's not your imagination. The weather does affect mood, probably because we're simply receiving less by way of sensory stimulation. If we choose to stay in we make matters worse. It's a challenge.

What's this I hear about Wii, anyway? Should I go see someone who has it? I've always wanted to play drums.



I highly recommend Hot Yoga to anyone with SAD, or well, anyone at all. Hot Yoga has totally improved my life and is really quite active!

And I don't think the Wii is all that exciting, but that's just me...
Isle Dance said…
Your timing and advice is perfect. I'm framing my little cabin in right now (well, assisting those doing the hard work) and just today made window and door decisions based on this very reality. It truly makes all the difference in the world, light. :o)
therapydoc said…
I looked up Hot Yoga and found this, not what the dirty-minded are thinking. It's possible that it's worse, however. This sounds dangerous to me, but read the caveat at the end. tells us the following:

What is Hot Yoga?

Hot Yoga is a series of yoga poses done in a heated room.. .. 95-100 degrees. A yoga session at this temperature promotes profuse sweating which rids the body of toxins. It also makes the body very warm, and therefore more flexible.

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Choudhury is a Hot Yoga innovator. . .26 yoga poses, including two pranayama exercises, each of which is performed twice in a single 90 minute class. . .

. . .involved in a lawsuit over his attempt to copyright his series of 26 poses done in a hot room.

The lawsuit was resolved with an out-of-court settlement in which Choudhury agreed not to sue the members of a San Francisco-based collective of Hot Yoga teachers and they agreed not to use the Bikram name. Bikram remains a very controversial figure in the yoga world.

I'm surprised no one has sued for manslaughter.

I'd say a workout in such a hot room (95-100 is really hot)shouldn't go any longer than ten minutes.

Did I ever tell you guys the story of getting lost with my family in the dessert (Machtesh Rimon) mid-day? One day.
pinky said…
I like plain yoga. I put my mat in the center of my living room and just break into a few poses here and there.

The Wii has yoga. I think it is fun but almost never play it cause I don't know how to turn it on with all the gadgetry that my boys have put down stairs. It is a wonder if I can turn on the tv thesee days.
You've got to try the Wii, it is really really fun! And gets family members off the couch, playing, yelling, enjoying ;)
pinky said…
I like plain yoga. I put my mat in the center of my living room and just break into a few poses here and there.

The Wii has yoga. I think it is fun but almost never play it cause I don't know how to turn it on with all the gadgetry that my boys have put down stairs. It is a wonder if I can turn on the tv thesee days.
Anonymous said…
My brother in law just got a wii for hsi bar mitzvah, it's really cool.
This time of year it really is an active struggle for me to stay active and to not sink into a rut. I am trying to invest money into some of that under armour stuff though so I won't be so afraid to keep running outside through the winter.
Great post and suggestions though. I actually just made your veggie soup from the yeshiva cook book, good stuff! :)
therapydoc said…
Make a cauliflower base, excellent.
Syd said…
Or get out and go sailing on that lake up there. Anything to get outside and get some sun. I've stayed in Sweden over the years and when it gets dark at 2 PM, it makes me feel as if it's time for bed. But the dawn comes at 3 AM so it's good to make the most of the light and get outside.

Great post and good ideas.
therapydoc said…
Syd, for me that would definitely be a signal for an afternoon nap.

And Rachel, don't chintz on the garlic or salt.
Mark said…
Great suggestions. We must make active choices about how we spend our time when there is less physical warmth and sunshine.
Another one I like to do is have more get togethers, invite freinds and family over to share food and drink.
Jackie said…
I like your suggestion about turning up the heat, and getting warm! We keep our thermostats at 60-63 and brrrrr that's COLD! Now, to just convince my hubby.....
therapydoc said…
Be sure to remind him that antidepressants and therapy cost money, too.
Anonymous said…
A few more ideas -- Watch Nature on PBS. Eat one square of dark chocolate a day. Read Jane Austin (well, this may not be for everyone - but it works for me).
Anonymous said…
Bikram yoga is the way to go. I highly recommend it. I am never more relaxed or more centered than I am after those 90 minutes. Just try it once or twice, you'll be surprised. By the way, where I go, it's 105 degrees but it's dry heat so it's not nearly as bad as you might think.

Of course, I like Wii too. Wii gets the whole family off the couch, especially boxing. You can get one heck of a workout from beating up a cartoon character on the screen. There's something to be said for kicking the crud out of someone who doesn't really exist!
porcini66 said…
Just when the days get shorter and the chill of winter begins to set in, we get the holidays too! My goal for this year is to ENJOY them, not stress over them. Money is tight, but our plans are set. Grandma's house for Thanksgiving and then quiet contemplation from our own snug little home at Christmas. And, yep, we're getting a Wii for the girls. They waited a whole YEAR for it, ya know! I'll let you know how it is! :)
Leora said…
I love your soup idea. And I love the idea of turning on all the lights!

I can't say I suffer from SAD (I actually like winter, as long as it snows), but I have noticed that the major depressive episodes in my life have all occurred in the fall. So it may be one more factor in causing overall depression.
therapydoc said…
The funny thing is, probably there are more people per capita in therapy in California than in any other state.

So there goes our theory.

And some say that people live longer in Northern climes. Makes us hardier, or something.

If a person lives in the north, however, it's all about keeping the feet warm. And the neck. The clothes, mainly, make the difference. Keep that core warm, you're good. Depressed, sure. But good.
otgirl said…
Years ago my honey and I lived in a dark cabin under the trees- lovely in summer and danker than dank in winter. After 2 years winters of depressed bickering we decided to spend the money and put full-spectrum light bulbs in EVERY SOCKET and turn them all on whenever we were home. It really helped. Then I started riding a bike which also helped. Anyway, SAD sucks, so do whatever it takes to get through 'til spring.
Batya said…
Our two years in London were really bad, no sun for days on end, all year.
therapydoc said…
I think I could take a cabin in the woods for about a day. But the idea's great.

Muse, is London always gray and humid or only when I visit?
Lou said…
"Turn up the heat & get warm." My frugal parents had me freezing as a kid. Now I'll work two jobs if I have to, but damnit I'm going to be warm in my own house;)
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the sound advice!
Retriever said…
all good suggestions. I've always just thought that SADS was a less stigmatizing way of describing bipolar mood fluctuations. That non-sufferers don't think a reaction to the lack of light is that threatening, so one can call one's symptoms that without many negative reactions. As alternately caregiver for relatives with and periodic sufferer from the black dog, I tediously intone "MOm's list" to the family: walk at least 3 miles a day at midday Uthe brighter the sun the better), take care of lots of house plants when the outside garden freezes, knit, read something hard and new and something funny every day, read the bible every morning, call at least one friend a day whether you want to or not, do one good deed anonymously each day, give up one luxury and donate the money to charity instead, keep lots of furry pets allergies or not and hug andslobber over them, go to work every day no matter how ill you feel and develop the patience of JOb as the office gossip and the timesheet Nazi make you want to wring their necks Kill them with kindness, and remember the story of Oscar Wilde about the Happy Hypocrite. A miserable sinner who put on the mask of a saint, then realized he had to act like one or he would be found out. Did it so long that one day, when the mask fell off and he shrunk, afraid of being discovered, his face had changed into that he was endeavorig to appear--no longer a devil but a saint. AA calls it fake it til you make it. My grandmother used to just say annoyingly "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all...." But sincerity and self-disclosure (except with a shrink or a priest confessor) are decidedly overrated. Other obvious things are sleep eight hours BUT NO LONGER (resist the temptation to hibernate), and if you feelobliged to overeat at leats let it be yummy healhy stuff. Go to Whole Foods, TraderJoe's and get something good for you in with the sugar, fat, salt, and carbs. Go to church or temple or meeting house, for the physical proximity with other believers as much as the structured time with God. Most of all (and this is the hardest for meas I sink into fall despair, but it is the most effective) keep doing things for other people. NOT the 24/7 dishwashing laundry stuff that most working mothers are saddled disproportionately. But rather, look around you for all the lonely, hurting people and ask yourself what you can do stealth (without offending or intruding) to help them feel more appreciated, more comfortable, less agonized, less furiously misunderstood. There is always somebody (sometimes the person I most detest at the office) who needs to feel heard, special, noticed in this cutthroat world. Excuse rambling, but very sick with a cold and a bit feverish.
therapydoc said…
Feel better, Retriever. Fantastic.
Unknown said…
pinky said...
I like plain yoga. I put my mat in the center of my living room and just break into a few poses here and there.

Micky said...
“If you’re not seeking the God of the Bible, His power, then by default you’re in the other camp,” Cummings said.

Yoga turns kids’ minds toward Hindu gods, Cummings said. “The other source of supernatural power is Satan.
Anonymous said…
I'm a big fan of "daylight bulbs" -- the bulbs that cast light in a fuller spectrum, not the yellowish light of normal incandescent bulbs. You can get them in compact fluorescent. The light is bluer than what we usually use inside. It helps me see better for reading and also picks up my mood. (I originally purchased the daylight bulbs for my painting studio, in order to get a truer color palette, but since that room is also my reading room, retreat and meditation room, I found I enjoy that light for everything.)

I'm kind of a sunlight addict, if there is such a thing, which I why I enjoy living in Texas. But even here, the days do grow shorter, darker, and gloomier around about now.
Anonymous said…
this is great! I love it. I do most of these, but am hindered by a horrible, on my way back from the pharmacy, I was thinking "this is a good day to take a walk" to get my spirits up since I've been in bed all week. But alas, fits of coughing says it can't be so. I am praying for a Wednesday walk.

p.s. I just made my holiday cards!
Unknown said…
Or buy a light box. One of around $200 ones. The much cheaper ones are cheaper for a reason.
Yesterday I met a Wii for the first time. One of our patients, an eighteen year old who'd come out out of isolation not long ago (bone marrow transplant) was swinging the Wii remote (wand? joystick? who knows?) and getting fantastic scores at virtual golf. He was smiling, active... the whole room was cheering. Fantastic. I'm all for the therapeutic Wii.

(And I'm all for thick soup, too, and compact fluorescents, even in still-sunny places.)

You have cold -- but at least you got those beautiful trees first. That always amazes me, that thing trees do.

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