A Quick Post On Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Today I discovered an excellent Cognitive Science blog: Deric Bownd’s MingBlog. Bownd is a Cognitive Psychologist at the esteemed University of Wisconsin, where he has studied visual cognition for 35 years. If you’re interested in Cognitive Science and CogSci & Society, his blog is definitely worth a look.
Anyhow, while reading his blog I discovered a posting on Seasonal Affective Disorder, an affliction that is fairly prevalent in my region of North America, Toronto. According to the stats reported by Bownd, the 9.7% of New Hampshire citizens have SAD. I speculate that the rate in Southern Ontario is over 10%, given that its prevalence increases as one moves toward the poles. Given that most of the people reading this blog are within this relatively unfriendly section of North America, I thought I’d share some potentially valuable information.
For those of you that seem to be suffering from SAD—that is, feeling tired, slow, depressed and so on in the Winter, when sunlight is relatively scarce—there is a very simple and highly effective treatment available: light therapy. Light therapy is scientifically proven to be effective. And its effects are noticeable within the first four days to a week, compared to 4-6 weeks for antidepressants. I own two light therapy devices: one portable and one big desk lamp. The travel device cost about $300 CDN about 3 years ago, the stationary about $215 about 5 years ago, just to give you an idea of the cost–though prices may well have decreased with the expanding market. I personally have found light therapy to be very effective. It’s not quite as good as long summer days, but for me it has provided a substantial improvement—maybe 80% or so.