Füsun A.



Montréal, CANADA
January 12
Freelance Writer - jack of all genres;master of none.
warm and genuine
I divorced my full time career of teaching after 25 years, because meanwhile I fell in love with freelance writing. Ever since, I decided to legitimize my ten-year fling which started in the new millennium. Author of: "WILL OF MY OWN - A Memoir" Available at all major book outlets. For a preview please visit: http://www.dictionmatters.com/


Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 19, 2010 11:24AM

More than just the Winter Blues

Rate: 57 Flag

cool december light breaks through_FA 

"There's a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons--

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of  Cathedral Tunes--

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us--

We can find no scar,

But internal difference,

Where the Meanings, are."

~Emily Dickinson~

Like some other creatures of nature under the sun, we have evolved, incorporating the rhythms of night and day, darkness and light, cold and warmth, scarcity and abundance into the functioning of our bodies, and have been shaped by the seasonal changes for which we have developed mechanisms to deal with. Many of us respond to these differences through emotions and behavior; yet some of us suffer an unwelcome disruption of our lives through seasonal changes.

SAD, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Winter Depression, is a type of depression which doesn't discriminate against class, race, or occupation. It affects both sexes, although it seems to favor women more than men. It gets worse in countries which are far from the equator, where there is a significant difference in the length of days from summer to winter. It sets on every year at the same time, often starting in fall or winter and ending in spring or early summer. For the sufferers, it is more than just the winter blues.

SAD was first described by Dr Norman Rosenthal  at The National Institute of Mental Health.  The exact cause of this condition is not known, but the lack of sunlight seems to play a strong role in bringing about the illness. One theory suggests that with decreased exposure to sunlight, the biological clock, which regulates mood, sleep, and hormones, runs more slowly in winter. Exposure to light may reset the delay in the biological clock.

Another theory is that neurotransmitters, such as  serotonin, which transmit information between nerves may be altered in individuals with SAD. It is believed that exposure to light can correct these imbalances.

People who suffer from SAD share many of the known signs of depression such as anxiety, sadness, loss of interest in their usual activities and withdrawal from social activities. Extreme fatigue and lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, increased need for sleep, a craving for carbohydrates, and weight gain are other symptoms of this disorder.

Many SAD sufferers come from a family where a parent or a close relative suffers from SAD. It is estimated that ten percent of the population in the United States have SAD. Doctors estimate that in United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, five percent of the population live with SAD. The variation between the countries may be due to the difference in awareness level of the population as well as the readiness of the sufferers to seek treatment for the disorder.

Sometimes physical problems can cause depression. But other times, symptoms of SAD are part of a more complex psychiatric problem. A health professional should be the one to determine the level of depression and recommend the right form of treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with SAD, here are some things you can do to help to prevent it from coming back:

1. Try to spend some amount of time outside every day, even when it's very cloudy. The effects of daylight are still beneficial.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet, including sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals as recommended by the USDA Food Guide. This will help you have more energy even though your body is craving starchy, sweet foods.

3. Try exercising for 30 minutes a day, three times a week.

4. Seek professional counseling, if needed, during the winter months.

5. Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. This can be a great means of support during the cold, dark winter months.

Light therapy is an effective treatment for SAD as research now shows. Sometimes antidepressant medicine is used alone, or in combination with light therapy. Spending time outdoors during the day, as well as maximizing the amount of sunlight you're exposed to at home and in your work place can also be helpful.

Aromatherapy, treatment using scents, is a holistic treatment of the body with pleasant scented botanical oils such as lavender, lemon, peppermint and rose. The essential oils can be added to the bath, massaged into the skin, inhaled directly or diffused to scent an entire room. Aromatherapy helps to relieve the pain, alleviate tension and fatigue, reduce anxiety, promote relaxation and invigorate the entire body.

Despite all the modern discoveries in natural or medical remedies, it is still worthwhile to look back at ancient wisdom. As far as SAD is concerned, no ancient writer offered more compelling advice than the physician Aurus Cornelius Celsus did to melancholics during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.  

"Live in rooms full of light

Avoid heavy food

Be moderate in the drinking of wine

Take massage, baths, exercise, and gymnastics

Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water

Change surroundings and take long journeys

Strictly avoid frightening ideas

Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements

Listen to music"


I like the sound of pan flute very much, so here's a familiar piece to share.

   " />   

The National Organization for Seasonal Affective Disorder -NOSAD- is a small non-profit organization dedicated to helping people affected by SAD find support and treatment for their illness. Its research group Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms has a website, which you can visit here  .

 Have a bright and cheerful Thanksgiving !



© 2010 Füsun Atalay ~ DictionMatters ~ All Rights Reserved 


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
At one point Fusun they sad us bulimia suffered from SAD and stuck us under lights. It did not work. BUT I do believe the change of seasons affects us.
Rated with hugs and hope votre petit minou is better..
Avoiding SAD at all costs!

Lovely, Fusan and have a wonderful, beautiful and bountiful Thanksgiving!
"Avoid frightening ideas..." Now that is something I would like to do in the summer or the winter. Stress. sigh.....We used to get big full spectrum lights in the nursing home where I worked in Alaska. I think the trick to an Alaskan winter is a trip to Hawaii. Money, Honey. But still SAD is very real and some people are more prone to it than others. I am looking out on a grey Southern California day. sigh I kind of like it.
Thanks. I live with this every year. We have found that Living in Chicago during the winter one must go south a least once for two weeks of therapy. We go in Feb. Also P has found that Concerta helps. I can't tell you how many mornings I come out to the kitchen and every light in the universe is on. Light=Happy for P. :D
Oh and don't read Scanner!
Thanks Fusun for this excellent and timely post. Lovely video!
Thank you for this informative post. I believe that many people suffer from some form of this and don't even know it. Great picture too! Happy Thanksgiving!
That Celsus fellow was a pretty smart guy! I think this is one reason I have never really considered permanent residency above the Mason Dixon line. Oh, and if you're going to be cleaning that bird, you'd best get started to be finished by next Thursday - he's a big 'un.
Good service and reminder. I am a firm believer in this and have been for several years as I have watched my clients suffer during these times.
I did my master's thesis on Emily Dickinson's uses of humor. I think she captures perfectly the melancholy feeling that can hit around 4 o'clock on a winter afternoon. I have found that burning lots of candles helps.
I have suffered from those winter blues most of my adult life and it doesn't help that almost every traumatic event that has taken place in that life has happened during the Winter. Thanks for the suggestions on how to combat it and I plan on putting them into practice.
This is good information--thank you.
- a timely article, Fusun! Thank you...
You write the most calming and gentle posts, just reading them always makes me feel "ahhh it's all OK" I like the advice at the end it shows that we have always been this way and we will always be. Life is just like that. Thanks FusunA.
I can't imagine how people in Alaska cannot see sunshine for months. I would go crazy.
Yes, Fusun, this is why Red and I get out into the woods two, three or more times a week during the winter -- as well as walk the mutt every day. It really shows if we don't.
Well written and great advice to follow to help those suffering through the pangs of SAD. I know a good deal of people that deal with SAD and it can be a tormenting time. Thank you for reminding us all of what we should do no matter what season we're in. ~R
really very powerful, friend R.
I don't suffer from SAD but I think I will give your suggestions a try anyway - they sound great.
Happy Thanksgiving to you - although I know you already had yours.
SAD to say, some unfortunates are depressed year-round.

Fusun, you speak of light therapy. Ever meet a blind man or woman who's a depressive? Neither have I. Isn't that strange?
Good reporting, Fusun. As I was growing up in Chicagoland, I was seriously affected by the long winter days, especially when the clouds stuck around for days on end. If I hadn't moved to CA and then GA, I think I would have been diagnosed with SAD myself. I feel the melancholy setting in if it even rains two days in a row.

I used to suffer from this in November and January especially. When I moved to CA it disappeared. Thank you so much for this informative and timely post. -R-
Really good advice. And told in your usual lovely way.~r
A beautiful expression of a pretty miserable affliction. I was just laughing about how many acronyms now exist for evey ailment.

AES- acronym exhaustion syndrome.

Fusun, if you get hit by it come to sunny california. You have a good friend here.
I think I have SAD, no joke. Thanks for this very informative and supportive article. I love how you also included some elements of beauty (the poem, the music) - I know these things are intrinsic to your soul. Thanks again. R.
Some good ideas whether SAD is an issue or not. I love the music. :) Rated
i hope you have a lovely winter, fusun, by following all the advice. i will personally "Strictly avoid frightening ideas" all winter and forever, if i can manage it! happy thanksgiving, friend!
I have my desk situated in the path of a Norther and Western window. I get plenty of light. Oregon was awful about light. By December it was dark at eight in the morning and dark at four in the afternoon (16:00). Wasn't your Thanksgiving back on October 12th?
@ Bobbot: Yes, my friend, we already had our Thanksgiving. This one's for my "Merican" friends.
This is great. I recently wrote a magazine article about this and did some research on the lights. Target has a light under fifty dollars (only online) for people who want to try the light therapy. Everyone I spoke with swears by it. Hope for some light in your holidays! RRRR (Yes I know Canadians already celebrated thanksgiving.)
thank you, the poem, what you wrote I can truly say that winter for me is such a delightful season. For me it is time to mediate, sort out my wishes, analyze my last 11 months, do home projects, write my thought. Read and read. Cook, have the TIME FOR MYSELF ..Party just a bit since I have done it in the past 11 months. It is really my TIME OFF but TIME ON FOR ME.
The music
What about cruising porn? I know that kills my depression really quick.


Oh yeah, and naps!! Lots of naps!! :D

Here, you can have my daylight!! We don't have much lately, but Sunday, it's suppose to go back into the 70s. What a weird season so far, down to 20s, up to 70s, back and forth!! And people wonder why we get sick?!!!! :( ~L~
That quote about winter's oppressive slant helps me get through SAD every year.

I don't know, but it's the idea of having words for the change in the direction of the sun light somehow helps.

Now, about letting go of the heavy food...not on a bet!
So well written, organized and noteworthy as we enter this season of darkness! LOVE your pan flute selection! xo rated
Definite sufferer here. I was raised in Ottawa where it is cold but bright and developed SAD when I moved to Vancouver, Canada.

At Christmas, I decorate my house with photosensitive lights and December can be so dreary the lights are on for days on end--- even my electrics believe it is perpetually night.

I find 2000 IU of Vitamin D helps immensely. And now, off to the gym.

Thank you for bringing this issue to (ahem) light.
I suffer from this as does everyone in my family. It only made things worse when my father, mother and husband all died in the month of December. I have used the lights but would rather head for some warm sunny place to forget that December exists.
rated with love
that Roman quote is priceless; love the happy music too!
FusunA, this was a really great article about SAD. I am planning to purchase a light this winter and will go to the website you suggested. Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D as well which also is a function of low sunlight exposure. Using too much sunscreen lessens our ability to absorb Vitamin D through our skin. Thank you for your research on this subject. R.
Thanks, this is very useful information. I'm finding it difficult to deal with the fact that it is dark here by the time I get home from work at 5:00. And it's only going to keep getting worse for the next month!
Strictly avoid frightening ideas! Great advice! Thank you, Fusun...Happy Thanksgiving to you...xox
Thanks for the great ideas! I live in Ca. and whenever we "fall back" it completely messes with my system. I think making an effort to get outside will definitely help! Thanks! R.
Thanks for the good information. I know I have trouble with winter darkness. Three days ago it was 75 degrees and I was swimming. Now, tons of rain and it's so cold. I need a trip to Hawaii! Thank you for writing this.
My wife suffered from this - she got a big light box that helped some.
I went through SAD Christmas of 2008. It was absolutely horrible. Some family understood, as others made it worse.
My friend Robert in Toronto suffers from SAD... but he says it is a regular condition for Canadians... so that he will be fine in March....
Rated Fusun
Love to you
I have a friend who suffers from SAD. Her whole outlook seems to become gloomier at this time of year. I can understand it, too - it can be pretty dispiriting to drive home from work in darkness every day. Thanks for the detailed information, Fusun.
I've finally figured out what's wrong with me and why everyone thinks I'm "odd." I'm the exact opposite, I daydream of and wait for fall and winter. The two season's actually energize me and summer is the oppressive season for me.

Damn, maybe I'm the one who needs a shrink. Now you have me worried Fusun. I'm heading outside to feel the cold wind on my face.
I do recognize some of these symptoms, yes. Amazing how similar the recommendations from modern and Ancient Roman physicians are to battle this affliction. =o)

The ones I particularly need to work on:

Change surroundings and take long journeys
I haven't gone anywhere in months.. over a year, I realize. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait until January, at this point..

Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Since the election, this has been tough!

even though your body is craving starchy, sweet foods.
Guiltily hides the eclair wrapper from the bakery.
Er, what did you say?? =o)

Happy Thanksgiving, Fusun! Love El Condor Pasa--never get tired of it.
I have seen the light..Thanks
Fusun, thanks for posting this very comprehensive look at SAD. I learned a number of new items about this just now and will add that walking through a heated greenhouse or conservatory full of light, warmth, plants and humidity is a wonderful way to mitigate the effects of SAD. If one has such a greenhouse nearby all the better--visit it several times a week if time permits!
Come on down to Florida this winter. We can play.
So true and getting light as well as exercise really does help. I have to make myself do it when the days are short or I have no energy and feel glum no matter what good things happen.
About four years after moving from the Southeast to the Pacific Northwest, I started experiencing 'black moods' in the winter, really foul moods.

The next winter I began taking Vitamin D, and guess what? No more foul winter moods. Seems it took about 4 years to use up what my body had stored.

I highly recommend taking extra Vitamin D to anyone suffering from SAD. I would certainly recommend it before taking anti-depressants.
I also suffer from SAD. The past two years I tried a light box with little effect. Last Spring I started taking 4,000 IU of Vitamin D daily. And guess what? This November DID not bring on SAD (yet). I'm certain Vitamin D intake had something to do with this very welcome change. I'm practically giddy that I don't feel that awful dark Winter depressed feeling.
I'm pretty sure I don't suffer from SAD to any serious degree, although the joy of coming spring I experience once longer days are back on the scene may be an indicator that my body and soul are full of anticipation.

We live with two large dogs, Newfoundlands. They are built for winter and once the cold sets in, we see them increasingly active. Ellie Mae, a very big girl at 160+ pounds slows right down in the heat, but yesterday she was bounding around the park with her younger pal Memphis. The dogs draw me outdoors during the cold weather and that has to be a healthy response to the season. If we get plenty of the white stuff this winter, I'm even considering taking up snowshoing so the dogs and I can continue the forest walks we love so much.
Sorry I'm so late here, Fusun.

I'm first struck by that beautiful photo of the light streaming through the trees over the lake! And you took it! Absolutely gorgeous! Then there's Emily's poem that goes hand in hand with your photo. Perfect! I just love coming to read you ... the teaching and learning here is second to none, my dear friend. You mentor and guide in such a gentle and lovely voice.

Thank you.
"Strictly avoid frightening ideas" Clearly Celsus' advice wouldn't work in our political climate. Sometimes I think I live with this year-round. (Editing & spacing is stuck today) Rated.