Seasonal Depression: Monster or Myth?

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?

SAD Explained:

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.

Preparing for a Hurricane in New England

Preparing for a Hurricane in New England

We are still in the midst of hurricane season and with all of the hurricane activity we have seen lately on the gulf and eastern coasts, it is an important time to prepare for a hurricane in New England. A hurricane can do lasting damage as winds whip up to over 100 miles per hour. As low-pressure meets with tropical ocean water, the conditions result in a hurricane. It surges unto land and as it travels onward, it loses its velocity. However, rain continues to fall often leading to flooding. Floods are perhaps the most deadly consequence of some hurricanes.

To help you with get your hurricane preparedness plan in place, follow these guidelines:

– Preparing for a hurricane in New England means you need a plan in place before a hurricane approaches. Make sure everyone in the family knows the plan. Test-drive the evacuation route in case you need to leave your home.

– Stock your home with essential supplies such as water, food, a first aid kit, flashlight, hand crank radio, and batteries.

– Continuously check with the national and local weather advisories and heed their warnings.

– When you hear that a hurricane is approaching, make sure your home in New England is prepared. Depending on the category rating boarding up windows or closing hurricane shutters and doors may be necessary. Especially if you are in 150 miles of the coast for a category 3 or higher level hurricane. Ensure all drain spouts are in proper working order, as well as other drains, sewers, and sump pumps.

– Check your generator to be sure it’s functional and fueled up.

– If you don’t have a generator, set your refrigerator to a colder setting in case the power goes out.

– Secure important documents that are irreplaceable.

– Check with your insurance agent to make sure your policy covers the potential damage of a hurricane. Add flood coverage if you don’t already have it.

– Cover your outdoor A/C unit with a tarp.

– Remove non-permanent outdoor equipment to a garage or basement (for example, picnic tables, patio furniture, and grills).

– Remove any loose limbs and shrubbery that is near your home.

– If the hurricane has already hit land, do not attempt to drive. Many people die in flooded waters.

Preparing for a hurricane in New England is an essential step to take now. The hurricane season doesn’t begin to die down until November. If you have any questions on hurricane preparedness or about your policy, please click here to contact us today!