Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
It’s early November and I am feeling tired and sluggish. The spring has gone out of my step and when I wake up, all I want is to go back to sleep. Is this depression?
I keep hearing about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Should I start antidepressants?
yours, Sluggish in November.
Dear Sluggish in November,
NO. The bruhaha over Seasonal Affective Disorder is for the benefit of the advertising industry. I also doubt very much that you have depression. What you are experiencing is seasonal, but it is a normal response to environmental changes. For some reason, our culture is in denial of it and has taken to calling it Seasonal Affective Disorder. A more accurate title might be Seasonal Non-Disorder. This time of year we all go into hibernation mode; it a natural response to the changes in light and climate. If we were following the normal cycle of the seasons, we would have been busily storing away food all summer preparing for the winter months. In early November, we would be getting ready to retire to our caves or farm houses, laying low until the thaw. The problem is that our modern life styles don’t reflect our genetic origins. Our current culture is in complete denial about the profound effect that the changes in season has on us. Not that this is necessarily bad, but it does have consequences, and one of those is that we tend to view our natural responses as ‘disorders’ and experience them as illness.
So, should you start antidepressants? NO! A little change in climate is a better prescription. The ideal remedy would be to visit Tahiti every 2 months but if that is not an option (as it isn’t for most of us) you can get yourself a light box. In order to have the desired effect, it must be 10,000 lux – this is the frequency of light which simulates the summer sun. Using it 15 to 30 min in the morning will reverse the hibernation your body is entering. The cheapest model I have yet to discover on the internet can be found at:
I keep one on my office desk at work. Not only has the spring come back into my step but I have also found that my need and tolerance for coffee has diminished greatly.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché.