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Seasonal Affective Disorder and Christmas Lights




After Christmas is done and all the excitement is over .. We have January. It is a long dark month. Now I'm on a budget and a diet and it's frickin' dark. The days are still short, so I leave the Christmas lights on to keep the joy going. I think of my collection of lighted Christmas houses as winter lights. I can slowly put away the rest of the Christmas decorations but the row of lit houses in front of my fireplace make it not so dreary. They are a "street" of nightlights I'll leave up until the end of January.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that effects some people during winter months. It is related to reduced amount of sunlight and some people are more sensitive to the lack of light. I'm not one of those people, thankfully, but I still benefit from the extra cheeriness. For seasonal affective disordered folks the Christmas lights may add some relief.


During these short days, it is more important than ever to get your dose of sunlight while you can. If you are lucky enough to be able to go skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, or ice skating, you won't feel so cooped up. I no longer go out cross country skiing, so now I make it a point to get out and walk every day. I'm also enjoying a ping pong club that meets twice a week.


Exercise is an excellent source of serotonin, the hormone that is is low in people who have depression. Antidepressants that are SSRI medication, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, allow the serotonin to stay in the gaps (synapses) between neurons longer so even with less of it, it is more efficiently used. If you can increase your serotonin levels, that's even better. Exercise will do that and give you more energy.


If you don't do winter sports or play table tennis, there are plenty of other ways to exercise like working out at the gym, or go bowling, or indoor rock climbing. I also use my stationary bike while watching online virtual bike rides from all over the world. I've "biked" in Amsterdam and Paris and Egypt and Italy and Wales.


Depression is the absence of energy so stay energized.









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