‘Tis the Season for S.A.D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder from darkness can kick in alongside holidays
ANCHORAGE - The sounds of the season have started to fill the air in Anchorage, and for some those sounds aren’t so bad.
“It’s the holidays,” said Anthony Marrow, with a smile across his face. “It’s always good to keep your spirits high.”
But for others, this time of year means the holiday blues, and that adds to a long list of winter-stress.
Alaskans have to wait until December 21 to see the light slowly increasing daily, and for most that day can’t come soon enough.
“It looks like seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) is related to low light levels,” said psychologist and depression specialist Suzanne Strisik. “[That] is when we are around the holidays and we are trying to adjust to those low light levels.”
Strisik said even though seasonal affective disorder and holiday pressure aren’t directly related, they still go hand in hand.
“We all have different ideas about how the holidays are supposed to be a time of peace, well being, appreciation for loved ones and yet we have these terrible conflicts.”
She said if you feel pain from one, it will be harder to overcome the other.
According to Strisik, ten percent of Alaskans are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, but suspects about 15 percent really have it.
“Some of us are really unfortunate and hit with everything,” said Strisik. “We don't feel well, we are sluggish, our thinking is off, we forget stuff and emotionally your self esteem can suffer, your sense of self-worth.”
But there are things you can do to make it through. Strisik suggests exercise for 15 minutes days, eating healthy, drink lots of water and get plenty of vitamin D.
“Seasonal affective is not something that we are,” said Strisik. “Its not something that says something about who we are. It's actually a neuro-biological phenomenon that happens to us.”