Bloody nonsense

Seasonal Affective Disorder, the condition where people become depressed because of the lack of sunlight in the winter time, is probably myth, scientists have concluded.
A large scale study of adults in the US found that levels of depressive symptoms do not change from season to season or in different levels of light.
The researchers concluded that the findings are ‘inconsistent with the notion of seasonal depression as a commonly occurring disorder.’

Amount of light affects human beings. That’s why melanin concentrations. That’s why places like Tromso, Norilsk, have place you can go and sit in some nice bright light in the middle of winter.

Whether you call the resultant blues from not getting in SAD or vitamin deficiency doesn’t matter all that much.

And you could possibly call it Seasonal Affective Rage too: Moscow in February, from experience, is packed with people going more than slightly nuts. Sure, you an call it cabin fever too but my own experience leads to light as being the crucial item. And of course, as ever, anecdata trumps anything the boffins might be saying.

24 thoughts on “Bloody nonsense”

  1. Anecdata:

    My depression worsens in the winter. Could be a variety of factors at play (reduced exercise, work demands etc) but I’m sure light is a contributor. I bought one of those SAD lamps and using it does make a difference to me (could just be placebo of course).

  2. Couldn’t agree more, did they carry out this research in the Sahara ?

    Death rates, suicides, alcoholism all seem to get worse the further North a country is

    I can only assume we have Winters to make us appreciate Summer more

  3. We’re primates – so in theory if SAD is a thing then we’d expect to be able to reproduce it in monkeys and apes. It takes all of a minute to find a paper reporting on this:

    Conclusion:For the first time, this study observed the SAD symptoms in rhesus macaque, which would provide an important platform for the understanding of the etiology of SAD as well as developing novel therapeutic interventions in the future.

  4. Agree that a SAD must exist. Almost a hibernation instinct. Spending all day in the cold and night can’t be good for mental health. That feeling of getting up in the dark, spending the day under strip-lighting and going home in the dark is a drain. You can see it in people’s faces.

    I guess there could be semantics here: is it a disorder? If it’s a natural reaction to winter, to hunker down and block out the outside, does it need to have a medical sounding name?

    But it’s definitely a thing.

  5. @john malpas:

    Blind and visually impaired people have high rates of SAD according to this study:

    The conclusion is: The study showed a highly significant association between visual impairment and SPAQ-defined SAD parameters, supporting the hypothesis that decreased retinal light input plays a role in the pathogenesis of SAD

  6. SAD is one of the reasons I now live in a tropical country, so they can fuck right off. Even here a couple of weeks of gloomy weather and I noticeably lose altitude. (Visualizing myself as a sort of solar powered Jonathan Livingston Seagull.)

  7. As I work as a tax advisor, January is a shit month anyway.

    Lazy arsed clients I have been chasing since April 6th suddenly realise that 31 January IS going to happen and drop off their records before phoning me 20 minutes later asking if their tax return has been done yet.

    I have no idea if the sun is shining in the day time as I’m in the office 12 hours a day 7 days a week.


  8. Bloody right it does. I’ve only been here two days & I feel terminally depressed. On the other hand, UK does that to me mid-summer as well..

  9. SAD is the reason I live in tropical Queensland, where you can actually look forward to winter. Had to go to UK for my dad’s funeral last November. Notwithstanding why I was there, it reminded me of why I ordinarily only go to the UK in summer.

  10. Except for sparsely populated Alaska,the USA lies below the 49th parallel where the light deprivation endured by Northern Europe in winter does not apply. Rubbish research.

  11. And do “depressive symptoms” include “feeling a bit deflated and tireder than usual”? Or are we saying here “mosquitos don’t bite because we found no evidence for mosquitos biting someone’s arm off”.

    Also, not only do they not have the 8 hours max sunlight that happens in N Europe, the US doesn’t typically suffer from the chronic cloud that northern Europe does for most of Autumn, winter and part of Spring.

    So the Scottish 6-7 hrs of “light” but never seeing a shadow thing was just not sampled in the study.

  12. “SAD is the reason I live in tropical Queensland, where you can actually look forward to winter”: given how vile the summer is, and how delightful the winter, no bloody wonder.

  13. They may have a point.. The amount of daylight in and of itself may not be the cause.
    What it *is* is a good general benchmark for environmental incarceration. Who wouldn’t get depressed having to mostly stay within the same cave, with your relatives, or worse *in-laws* with no chance of relief because the weather outside is, literally, murder…

  14. Vile is bit strong, dearieme, the heat and humidity are a tad uncomfortable at times but we’re still planning to stay here long term. The glorious views of the Whitsunday Islands, even from the master en suite, more than make up for any discomfort. When we don’t need the aircon to sleep, we nod off to the lapping of the Coral Sea on the beach below. Our summer electricity bills are the big ones, rarely do we need any form of heat in winter.

  15. It takes a good couple of hours of light for my brain to kick into gear, so in the middle of winter my brain is still asleep when society is screaming at me to go to work. Even worse, if I’m off work between Christmas and New Year because there’s nothing regularly dragging me out of bed every morning my body clock flips completely over and I end up living 6pm-6am.

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