Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Healing Power of Sunlight

The effect of sunlight upon mental health has been obtruding into my consciousness of late.

To begin with, when I needed continuing education hours to renew my license, I took an online video course a couple of months ago focused on borderline personality disorder. In one segment of this class, the presenter stressed the importance of self-care for people who struggle with BPD. He discussed how sleep deprivation exacerbates their symptoms; he also talked about the role of alcohol and caffeine in aggravating insomnia. Regular exercise (especially cardio-vascular exercise) during the day helps people to sleep better at night. So does limiting exposure to blue light in the evening – the kind of light emitted by TV and computer screens. The presenter also talked about recent studies showing that exposure to bright sunlight helps to alleviate depressive symptoms in most people.

Not long after I finished this course, I received an invitation from an editor at to write an article for their site about Seasonal Affective Disorder. I often receive requests to contribute (free) content to other sites – always presented as if they are doing me a favor – but this editor actually offered to pay me! (Once that article is up in a week or so, I’ll provide a link.) In researching the piece I wrote, I learned a lot more about the relationship between low exposure to sunlight and increasing symptoms of depression. Did you know, for example, that people who live in New Hampshire are 7 times more likely to suffer from winter depression than people who live in Florida?

Within a week of completing this article, I received another invitation, this one from a company manufacturing a new product called SunSprite, a wearable device (pictured above) that monitors your exposure to bright light, presumably to make sure you’re getting enough of it. According to the company’s brochure, “bright light entering your eye hits special receptors on your retina, sending electrical impulses to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN controls your circadian rhythm (your body’s clock) and regulates your mood and sleep hormones.” As an important “influencer,” I was offered one free device (it lists for $99) and asked to blog/Tweet about my experience with it.

So earlier this morning, I activated my SunSprite, which is currently clipped to my collar where it will remain (during waking hours) for the next week. SunSprite comes with an app that I downloaded onto my iPhone; the device transmits the information it gathers to my phone where I can read it on a graph. The app is presently telling me that I haven’t been getting enough exposure so far today, not surprising since I’m here in my office, writing at my desk. It’s a beautiful sunny day and a long walk with the dog is in order. I’ll be curious to see what the SunSprite app has to say later this afternoon.

As you might expect, I object to the idea of a discrete mental illness labeled seasonal affective disorder, but I have no doubt that decreasing sunlight can take its toll on a person’s mood. My friend Kathy gets depressed in the winter and has a light box to help alleviate her symptoms (she’d probably qualify for a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder), but I think most people get blue when the days grow short and skies remain cloudy for days on end. I sure do. I wouldn’t call it depression per se but my emotional world definitely feels darker in February than it does in August.

I’ve always been what is commonly referred to as a sun-worshipper. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of days on the California beaches with my older brother and sister – the heat of the sun on my skin, the particular quality of light you find during summertime. For the last 14 years, I’ve spent one week in Cabo San Lucas every March where I recover from winter and do little more than lie in the sun, read books on my Kindle, and listen to music on my iPod. Sunlight on my body feels restorative. It most definitely lifts my mood.

None of this is particularly profound but it has reminded me once again how much our state of mind is affected by environment and circumstance. Yes, understanding our unconscious motivations and the ways that early trauma have shaped us is important; over time, psychotherapy can be enormously helpful in improving our mental health. In the meantime, we can do our best to make sure we get enough sleep. We can reduce our consumption of caffeine and alcohol. We can try to get regular cardiovascular exercise. We can turn off the TV and laptop an hour before we intend to go to bed.

And we can get outside whenever possible. Studies show that exposure to sunlight for as little as half an hour, even during winter, can make a measurable difference to one’s mood. Even if you work from 9 to 5, try to eat your lunch outside, or take a brisk walk for 30 minutes. I intend to heed my own advice soon and take the dog for that walk.

Before I go, though, I’d like to ask for some feedback. Several of you have commented lately that you wish I would post more often than I do. I’ve been thinking about how to do that, and whether it’s a good idea. I’m mostly concerned about those of you who subscribe to my blog by email or other form of notification; given how much email we all receive, do you really want to get more from me? I’ve been thinking about more frequent but shorter posts. To date, I’ve been averaging around 1000 words apiece; what if I wrote shorter entries of 250-300 words and posted more often? Would that be a good thing or would it be irritating? Given how much writing I do on my book, I know that I can’t post such long posts more frequently than I do.

I look forward to hearing from you.

By Joseph Burgo

Joe is the author and the owner of, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.


  1. I enjoy your posts (in general) and length isn’t an issue one way or the other. If you’re inspired to post it and it comes from the heart I’m likely to enjoy it.

    This post however is clearly an advertisement and that wasn’t what I had expected nor what I wanted when I came here. As a blogger I understand the conflict around writing and working on a blog and not being compensated…it’s a conundrum and not an easy one to resolve.

    1. I hear you. I was trying to include something personal while fulfilling my obligation to blog about this device. I would like to make clear that I am NOT advocating that anyone buy it. I’ll just post about my experience with it as I go along. After my walk this afternoon, I had reached my quota for the day; I’ll be interested to see whether I reach it on a typical working day, and if not, whether that will encourage me to change my habits.

  2. I live in Ontario. We haven’t seen much sun for most of October, and November doesn’t look promising either. That is simply what our environment needs at this time of year – lots of rain to help the plants get through the winter months.

    It doesn’t help me though and I find the darkness oppressive. The weight of the dark skies with the wetness pouring down and the air continuing to grow colder by the day seems to push down on me. When we do get sun I find myself sitting directly in the beams of light that shine through my windows. I follow the sun around my house throughout the day sometimes. If it is shining through my bedroom window I lie on the bed with my eyes closed imagining that I am at a cottage on the lake or walking on a sunny beach.

    I too, have a little mood light – although I don’t know for certain if it has helped me at all. I really learned how much light is important to my mental health when I stayed at that cabin that I told you about. With it being situated in the woods, and the weather was overcast, I found it very dark and I really found that I could not produce enough light with candles or lamps inside to satisfy my need for that brightness. I should have thought to bring my little sunlight.

    It has been a difficult year – I’m not looking forward to the rest of November’s gray days. The only good thing about snow is the fact that it reflects so much sun back up that it can help make up for the fact that it’s on the ground at all. 🙁

    1. Hi Sheila, there’s been some recent research on these light boxes and they’ve gotten much more precise about the necessary exposure time and the amount of lumens you need. You might want to read that article I wrote when it comes out. It’s got some useful info, though it’s more prescriptive than what I tend to write here.

  3. I hope you don’t stop writing your longer posts. Your posts are so interesting and thoughtful. I don’t want sound bites like so much of what is out there.

  4. Regarding posting shorter pieces more often: you are sharing thoughts and insights. I am sure that you write them in a way that increases the depth of your sharing. To post more often would probably decrease the depth and value of each post. I am for waiting to read a longer post, rather than twitterizing your processes!

  5. I’d happily hear from you more often. Some of the best blogs have short regular updates, like zenhabits. I enjoy receiving email updates from blogs I subscribe to.

    On the subject of sunlight deprivation… Here in Scotland we have a lot of darkness – there is also a lot of depression… Wonder if the two are linked!

  6. Hi Dr. Burgo,
    Thank you for the SAD information. I suffer from SAD and do have a light that I use during winter, but I am confused about something.

    In your article, you state that eating outside or taking a walk will help us get our sunlight quota. I have read that without exposing larger parts of our skin, we cannot get enough sunlight through being outside. What has your research shown about being outdoors in the winter, under cloudy skies, while covered by coats, gloves, boots, etc.? Is it still effective?

    1. It’s all about your eyes. Vitamin D development may need skin that has been exposed, but from my reading, what is important is that the sunlight reach your retina.

  7. Hi Joseph,

    Agree that light is good for us and also sunlight but too not too much – for me at least. Today was sunny and cool and the light went down at 5pm (I don’t like the very long days of summer we get here from 4am to 11pm – it feels like too much light). I like cool nights – sometimes summer nights are too hot for me even when I open windows etc.

    I do go out every day for at least 20 mins – hail, rain or sun but I can’t cope with much heat or too much light. Heat makes me tired and very bright sun bothers me – the glare – that might be because I’m not used to it being from Ireland where we don’t get much sun. I lived in Italy for a while and I found the constant sunlight too much – I longed for some cloud to break up the glare and the heat.

    Anyway I know of a few others who feel this way – it might be a reverse form of SAD.

    I’m sure I read somewhere that depression is highest at Christmas but also at high summer. Maybe I remembered that incorrectly… I may have remembered it because when I was very depressed a few years ago I found the long summer days difficult because everyone was saying how great the weather was and they were going to the beach etc and I couldn’t feel the good vibes. Also there is a lot of pressure to be in good form on a sunny summer’s day here because sunny warm days are sometimes so few and therefore so precious.

    But even now when I’m not so depressed I find I don’t like too much light and too much sun/heat. It seems to me that many depressed people feel this way or maybe it’s me identifying with others like me.

    I’m always pleased to get a post from you, short or long – they’re not intrusive. I think you should do what suits you – don’t feel under pressure to post. Would short posts suit you? You give thought to what you write – maybe short ones aren’t for you. Anyway it’s entirely up to you I think.

    1. Fiona, about 10% of people with SAD experience it during the summer. Experts aren’t exactly sure why, but heat, humidity, and disruptions to our usual routines are the likely culprits.

  8. I did notice that after all the conflict that arose after your posts on Trans* issues- a big shift happened . I know you were doing your book. However, some big shift seemed to happen.
    I enjoy reading you. It does get a bit disjointed the wide gap between your posts and then reading the comment section. Then I’m used to getting online and being interactive with the comment sections of sites. I do understand your need to vet comments before.
    Hey, happy to read whatever you put up. I’m an intimacy junky, so love reading, sharing with people.
    Re sunlight. No problemo here in South East Queensland, Australia.. I get woken each morning by the sun. Sometimes, I wish for dark skies- to reflect my mood! But no, she just keeps smiling down. Sometimes, it just gets so so hot.. Then somewhere thru the summer
    ( in spring now, though wouldn’t know it. Up to 29C degrees most days), rains come and often floods. Or we have bush fires, if the rain doesn’t come.
    I too, find the beach and swimming in the ocean just makes me buzz. Love it.

    1. The trans issue posts/comments made me realize that there are topics, important to me, that I just can’t write about. I’ve got a fairly thick skin but it’s hard to take being attacked.

  9. I would be more than happy to see more posts 😊 We are now coming out of our Southern Hemisphere winter and it’s meant to be 36C (98F) today and I am so happy and spending all day at the beach with my boys, surfing and relaxing. This winter has been so long for me personally whilst struggling with PTSD through a work incident, worker’s comp claims, 3 x a week psychotherapy. As an avid surfer, beach, sun and sand freak, non-stop 35C (95F) days that go for 6 months, just can’t get here quick enough. I really admire how the Northern Hemisphere population can live through your NASTY winters as in Perth we have 246 days of sunshine. I think your advice regarding limiting alcohol, caffeine and screentime is so important, as is that beautiful natural phenomenon called sunshine.

    1. 246 days of sunshine! Wow! I’ll bet a a long hot summer will do your PTSD a lot of good. Psychotherapy is important but a day on the beach can do wonders (at least for me).

  10. I like the length of your posts as they stand. If you cut back, then you wouldn’t be able to give such interesting case studies which I find really helpful. It would be nice to have more posts, but I think I’d chose fewer but longer ones. Your followers look out for your emails as ‘special’ — I know I always open them immediately.

    It’s really up to you in the end — please do what suits you best!

  11. Whatever you post I’m always interested. I’m also fine if you mention products you’re trying as I am a gadget person and sometimes you happen upon something that becomes indispensable. My light box is something I’d never want to be without during the dark winter months. I think real sunlight is probably the best solution, but sometimes going out on a frigid January morning is the last thing I want to do!

  12. I enjoy your longer posts as they are different to the so many quotes and short things out there.

    inbetween your new posts you could post some of your older posts from when you first started, as nudges to us to read them, im sure we would find them interesting? and I bet some of us haven’t read all your posts from the beginning? just an idea 🙂

    I don’t notice how much I miss the sun until it suddenly comes out after a grey few days, then its lovely

    Although when I was really poorly I used to hate the summer it felt like being at a party where everyone was laughing joking and I was sooo depressed, it felt like it was laughting in my face, it felt invadeing and exposing, whereas I felt much more at home on rainy days as it felt like the weather was understanding and showing me empathy and was somehow “with” me, and covering me like a comfy blanket.


    1. It’s interesting you bring up my older posts because I’ve been thinking about revisiting some of the earliest ones — rewriting and deepening them. In the beginning, before I had fully hit my stride, the posts were shorter and less developed. Thanks!

  13. Wow! I have been diagnosed with seasonal depression and since I live close to NH in MA, I think I fit the study for being 7 times more likely to be depressed in winter than those who live in Florida! Which is exactly why I am still trying to sell this home to move there!!!
    I appreciate the length, quality and content of your posts. I always learn much, and always share on social media.
    Thank you for being a caring and trustworthy professional make so many lives better.

  14. Do what your heart tells you, not what other people want from you. If you want to write more then go for it! If you do so, don’t compromise your obvious high standards of quality for quantity. Life is too short to get burned out. With that said, congrats on being an excellent writer.

  15. Personally, I’d hate to see you sacrifice the depth of your writing in order to publish more frequent posts. As far as SAD, I used to use a full-spectrum light box, but gave it to a friend who needed it more. Then I found out that, rather than buy an expensive box, you can buy full-spectrum lightbulb replacements for your existing fluorescent fixtures. I got mine for $12 at The Sunbox Company ( and use it in a fixture just above my writing desk. I notice a big difference in both mood and energy when I turn use it regularly during the darker months.

      1. I turn it off and on depending on my need for light. You have to be careful–obviously if you get too much full-spectrum light you can start to get wired and not be able to sleep. It’s best not to use it late at night. I mentioned the lightbulb because the cost of a light box is prohibitive for many people, but the replacement bulb offers a low-cost alternative. Plus you don’t have a box taking up space on your desk.

  16. With regard to your articles I appreciate them whenever they come. If something is worth reading you take the time to do so.

    My husband And I just purchased full spectrum flourescent light bulbs from Lee Valley. We bought a new light fixture to create our own centrally located “sun” light. Since it rains and is highly overcast in British Columbia North of Seattlr we are surrounding ourselves with full spectrum light during daylight hours and using ambient lighting Early evening on. I think a good hour ritual preparing for sleep without TV, computers, phones or tablets is wise. Sleep is crucial for good health mental and physical. Preparing to go to sleep makes it a priority and programs your mind and body that it is time to sleep.

    There was an Excellent documentary on lighting and how it effects us since the light bulb was invented on Netflix. It dealt with our circadian rhythm and how artificial light has interfered.

    May we all get as much light outside and in during these winter months and good sleeping.


    1. What you’re doing makes a lot of sense, especially what you say about preparing for sleep. In our “always on” society, that’s a difficult but important thing to do.

  17. Hi. My bpd has exploded lately (many reasons) and I read your article from 2011. I was gonna comment there but scrolling on a phone was so difficult. Thank you for it. I’m writing a memoir fiction novel on it see what comes. Maybe can help someone. Glad you’re out there. My therapist dumped me after several years. I’ve had several too. I try to remember my meds. Have a good night. D.

  18. Greetings from Greece!
    S.A.D. is not an issue here, as most part of the year there is enough sunlight.

    Regarding the post frequency, I d like to read more posts by you. You have a great point of view and I really enjoy your writing style. Often I email links to your articles to my friends.

  19. I had something like a reverse of the problem in summer for 7 years after my estrogen plummeted. If I got overheated during those summers, I would pretty quickly get swamped by depression that would take many hours to lift.. Once the AC went out in my office building and I made a mad rush for the nearest library, had to get there before the dark cloud arrived. Very weird!

  20. I settle in to read your long posts when I get an email that says you’ve posted. I like getting fewer emails and then enjoying the break to read your writing. My two cents: Your longer posts are more immersive (for me) so I hope you continue to do them at least occasionally.
    Thanks for asking!
    PS Plenty of sun here in Texas, but I’m not always out in it. I think more exercise would do more for me even than the sun.

  21. Living in Britain where winter days are short of light I have found using a Lumie alarm helpful for waking me up in the mornings. The warm light acts like a gentle sunrise before your actual alarm time. I don’t even use the alarm sound as I always awake. That and a special light bulb in an ordinary lamp where I sit to put on my makeup seem to get me feeling more positive and able to face the day. I could really do with this at work too, as the open plan office lighting is always on and I have no control over it.

    I prefer your less frequent longer posts. I get most from your case studies and personal pieces and am interested to hear about new theories . Thank you

  22. I was commenting and then lost the page but if you got my post I wanted to add that I would prefer to wait for your longer in depth posts. I don’t really like Twitter type accounts as I relish the written word when it reveals insights , case studies, personal examples and new theories or information. But why not mix it up a bit to suit what you want to write about and when you have time? Short can be deep too in some instances. I don’t mind waiting. Thank you for giving your time.

  23. I really identified with this article. I’ve spent my whole life in Western New York (Rochester-Buffalo region, near Ontario, Canada), but we relocated to the Bay Area in California 1 year ago. I never really gave much thought to the 4-5 months of gloom and darkness that happened every Fall/Winter “back home”, since I hadn’t experienced anything else. However, the difference that I have experienced from near-daily sun here year ’round has been astounding. I actually never realized that my mood went into a kind of hibernation every year during the late Fall and Winter. That is, until I experienced my first winter without snow, oppressive clouds and frigid weather that kept up us indoors all the time.

    This move has been a personal challenge for me. I left my neighborhood, town, community, family and friends in NY because of my husband’s job and because my nuclear family had to be together. I miss home greatly but … the weather here has had SUCH a positive effect on me that I find it difficult to envision going back. The winter before we moved was especially challenging, as I had developed significant anxiety and ongoing panic attacks due to a nearly unbearable amount of stressful change in my life. This panic came to a head in the winter that year and looking back now, it doesn’t seem surprising. My panic attacks were not caused by the weather but they were surely exacerbated by it. The move and change here has not been easy but it has been successful. This is not only because of the weather but I have no doubt that the weather has a big impact.

    About your posting frequency … I think it would be a great idea to have more frequent but shorter posts. I am a fan of your blog either way but I would love to read more frequent posts and the resulting discussion.

    1. It’s amazing how much impact the weather can have, isn’t it? I don’t miss California summers (too hot) but I do miss the long lovely winters where we were always out of doors.

  24. There is no doubt that I “suffer” from lack of sunlight and a sort of semi paralysis in winter. I have always viewed it more as a circadian invitation to hibernate, even though my business really isn’t set up for that. Sometime in October (or when the weather is fabulous as it is now in San Francisco, a little later) I get the urge to roll up in my blankie and hibernate through winter on a pile of leaves at the back of a cave.
    But I have a question and do not quite know where to post it, so I will ask it here: San Francisco is currently talking about a waiter compensation model, tipping, which no longer works for us for a number of reasons. At some point for our restaurants to survive, blocking a change in wage and hour law, restaurants will have to do away with the customer determined compensation model and find a way to pay their servers wages. That’s a long story, but the Chronicle is running a series, if one is interested.
    That’s the background. Those who have written about changing the parameters have noted virulent opposition, exclusively from white men. My question is “why?” I would be delighted to see the price of my meal on the menu and be done, but the antagonists speak of having their rights withdrawn. Apparently they feel they can control the level of service by the promise or threat of a greater or smaller tip. Obviously it’s some kind of control issue, but if you could throw any further light on it, I’d be delighted to hear it.
    Now to find my blankie and go back in the cave.

    1. I will need to give the S.F. tip question some thought, but there is actually some research suggesting that SAD may be related to hibernation, that during shorter days, it made sense (historically speaking) for us to sleep a whole lot more and store up our energies for the spring.

  25. I’ve seen Sweden using light therapy at Bus stops. I doubt it works though.
    I think people are sadder at wintertime because they go out less and socialize less. Even if you personally do socialize just as much, parks are emptier, streets are emptier, people are covered up like terrorists, etc.
    There is also the fact that winter time is like the elderly stage of the year and it’s probably a reminder of our own mortality. If the year ended in August, I bet many people would feel worse in late summer instead of early winter.
    But maybe I’ve never experienced it because I live at lower latitudes. Sorry if I’m being unsympathetic.

    1. I don’t know much about Vitamin D3. I used to take daily multi-vitamins until I read about a long and comprehensive study that proved they had no measurable effect on a person’s health. I take fish oil because I believe it has an important impact on all sorts of physiological/mental functions, though I don’t know that there’s any proof yet.

  26. I grew up along the California coast too and also have happy childhood memories filled with days on the beach–catching the waves and soaking up the sunshine. I agree that sunlight on the body feels restorative–it’s not just that though it’s also the sights and sounds of the sea, especially listening to the waves. I spent the last week along the Florida coast and nothing made me happier than walking in the sand with the waves splashing over my feet.

    Where I live now gets a lot of sunshine, even during winter when the temperature drops, but it isn’t quite the same as during the longer days. I notice that my moods tend to change and I tend to feel blue and sad during winter and the shorter days even with exposure to blinding sunlight. When spring rolls around I’m much more energetic and upbeat, although during summer not so much as I find excessive heat fatiguing. Here it is a dry heat, but still it can be intense and brutal. I cannot hack too much humidity either. Gosh growing in in California turned me into such a weather wimp.

    I try to find time to be outdoors during winter as much as I can and I do notice that it impacts my mood, but it doesn’t last or feel the same. In fact, I felt like I got more than enough sun as I exercise and eat healthy food, but that turned out to be wrong and I was severely low in vitamin D.

    I found it interesting–what you wrote about the eyes and that it is important for the sunlight to reach your retina. I wonder if people who use sunglasses get enough? I use them otherwise the sun here is much too harsh.

    As to your writing I think revisiting older articles is a good idea. I like your longer posts and appreciate them when they come. I think that there is room for both longer and shorter articles, but more importantly do what inspires you.

    1. Growing up in California spoils us in more ways than one. There are the wonderful winters, to begin with, but also the summers there aren’t humid (like you, I can’t abide humidity). Plus there are no ticks or mosquitos! On the other hand, I like a change of seasons and since I’ve moved away, fall is my favorite season.

  27. Dear Dr Burgo
    Thank you for your article. I live in very sunny South Africa where even winter is interspersed with the most beautiful quiet sunny days, but as summer is properly approaching I definitely get a bit of a sense of euphoria. It feels like more than just looking forward to picnics and the beach and long afternoons on wine farms – haha 🙂 I’m selling it now, you should visit sometime 🙂

    As for the posts – I would definitely be pleased if I got more emails from you. I’m a GP with a special interest in mental health and a lot of the time I feel really out of my depth. Your posts are so insightful, but accessible at the same time and they always brighten my day and make me think. On the other hand, I don’t think you should feel too much pressure to post beyond what you can comfortably do. Your best posts are the ones that feel spontaneous and inspired.

    1. South Africa is definitely on the list of places I would like to visit. My hope is that my agents will sell the rights to THE NARCISSIST YOU KNOW to a South African publisher and I can then write off my trip!

  28. I was diagnosed with SAD at NIH in 1991, in a clinical study conducted by Dr. Norman Rosenthal and others. I had responded to a newspaper ad in the Washington Post entitled, “Do you feel like a bear in the winter?” Yes I did. It was a relief to learn that the bad winter sun caused my SAD-related problems – not some past wintertime tragedy haunting me, and not my own personal failings. The winter sun was too pale, at the wrong angle, not shining early enough, or for long enough – and caused my SAD symptoms. My brain theoretically has a lot of what causes animals to hibernate. During the ice age my nordic ancestors probably hid in caves during the winter while others hunted mammoths and saber-toothed tigers – hence my SAD-gene bearing ancestors survived.

    During the SAD study at NIH the participants sometimes gathered for seminars. We’d also talk to other study participants and discuss our symptoms and feel a bit less crazy. SAD in its extremes can produce many symptoms: insomnia and sleep with a jet-lagged feeling, constant melancholy, low average body temperature (mine averaged 97 degrees F), carbs seemed to be the only food group worth eating, and an ineffective immune system. We all found that the Sunboxes were highly effective to allay SAD. This is harder than it seems. For someone who is in the grip of the darkest days of winter to remember to use the sunbox regularly is hard – because the part of the brain that would carry out that function is affected by SAD. Yet I was so very grateful to have a solution that mimicked the natural world and did not involve taking a drug.

    Some people may say that you’ll feel better if you get outdoor sun during the winter. What nonsense – my mind intuitively grasps that the sun in winter isn’t at the right angle in the sky, nor bright enough – and that’s what provokes SAD. The only outdoor sun that helps me in the winter is one in a tropical clime. In my northern climate the sun in winter is a pale orb and does not help me at all.

    I’ve been so interested by sun-affected behavior that I’ve travelled on vacations to Sweden and Finland during the summer solstice to experience the near constant sun. There I felt the presence of the sun most keenly – so aware of the feeling that the sun was at a bizarre angle and always irritatingly present. It was quite odd to never feel tired during those times, to be talking to friends after dinner and suddenly realizing that it is 3 am only because the clock – not your body – tells you so. For the first time in my life I had too much sun, and took to wearing sunglasses indoors to escape its incessant presence.

    I’ve also travelled to Washington state in September and experienced the low and constant thick clouds – and the SAD-like symptoms rolled in too after a few days there. Other travels to areas near the equator have proven to me that I can not stay awake there long after the sunset. I suspect that for people like me, being a nomad who follows the sun would be the ideal as there is no perfect place year round for those with SAD.

    There is much to the sun’s effect on us that we do not know – and is very much worth knowing. We are all affected by the sun, as are most of the living inhabitants of our natural world. Paying attention to the flora and fauna who react to it, and recognizing that we too are within that continuum is a fascinating and illuminating experience. Would that there be more studies and treatments so that we could all use this most natural of remedies instead of defaulting to the chemical ones.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  29. Just wondering….

    I have posted on this and on other threads, but the posts disappear never to be seen again! Perhaps there is a reason……


    1. It’s not personal, Hermes. I was way behind in approving comments and when I finally got around to it, I found that WordPress (the software that runs my site) had deleted everything in my pending-approval queue. Sorry!

  30. So true – it’s proven! I grew up in the Upper Midwest where there is a lack of sun during the winter, at a young age I would self medicate my SAD/depression with alcohol (also part of the culture in the area). When I spent a few years in California and Colorado, my symptoms alleviated tremendously. Being outdoors in the winter cold isn’t it – it’s the lack of sunlight, where in the Midwest it can be grey for 2-3 weeks straight in February. After relocating back to the Midwest, I’ve become conscience of my sunlight intake (purchased a property with lots of natural light) and often take Vitamin D supplements.

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