With summer in the rear-view mirror, the calendar begins to turn towards the autumn and winter months. Especially in New England, the temperatures will gradually decrease, the days will become shorter, and the warm sunshine will start to feel like an old friend that you just don’t get to see anymore. This combination of lack of sunlight and colder weather can cause many to feel a little down in the dumps. It’s not unusual this time of year to feel the winter blues, but is that all it is? Could there be an underlying cause? In the past couple of decades, a lot of attention has been given to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or how many refer to it as seasonal depression; but what is it exactly?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is the name given to a mood disorder that seems to affect people, who are otherwise fine the rest of the year, with symptoms of depression during the same time each year, typically in the winter months. It is thought that the colder temperatures, which forces people to stay indoors longer, coupled with the lack of sunlight in the winter months, causes people to feel depression. Symptoms include lack of energy, decreased motivation, withdrawal from friends and family, overeating (which can lead to weight gain), and difficulty concentrating. It is estimated that this disorder affects up to 6% of the American population, mainly concentrated in northern climates where winter is most pronounced.
Fact or Faked?
However, even though SAD is now an official clinical diagnosis, the question remains “Is SAD a legitimate disorder?” A number of recent studies seem to suggest otherwise. One major study published in January of 2016 examined a major cross-section of the American public (over 34,000 participants) and concluded that there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that SAD is real, or that factors such as amount sunlight or temperature have any long-term effect on a person’s mental health. The results of the study suggest that SAD is an idea that might be more rooted in folk psychology and old wives’ tales than actual science. In another clinical study in Norway — a location known for its long and severe winters — also examined a large subset of the population and concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that these symptoms were more prevalent in the winter.
The debate about Seasonal Affective Disorder will likely go on for years to come. Even though many individuals continue to report having symptoms, evidence is mounting that SAD, in fact, might not be scientifically validated as the actual “disorder” as it was once suggested. As a result, many medical professionals are starting to question the prevailing school of thought.
Regardless, when there’s a chill in the air and the nighttime falls earlier, try not to let it get you down! Grab a nice book and bundle up by a warm, crackling fire or go outside and build a snowman with your family. Continue to find ways to enjoy the unique activities that fall and winter can offer you in New England!
One particular activity that Connecticut and its surrounding states specialize in during the winter months is snowmobiling. Do you or someone in your family own a snowmobile and need to get it insured? No problem! Contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency to get coverage on all of your winter and recreational vehicles.