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Fall/winter: Seasonal Affective Disorder: I love it, I hate it

Tammy

Senior Member
Messages
2,204
Location
New Mexico
My titIe is kind of misleading. There is nothing I love about SAD. I know that this has been talked about over the years but it still gets to me or perplexes me on how different I feel in the Fall/Winter months. I should be used to being perplexed as CFS certainly has been extremely that over the years and for the most part I'm used to the perplexity of it.....but this SAD thing I still havn't got accustomed to. It stuns me every year. It floors me every year.

I actually have always loved the Fall with it's changing colors and the start of the crisp air.............but it doesn't love me. I felt on top of the world this summer even despite some challenges I had/have. I herniated a disc the first week in July and could hardly take care of myself and then got a really bad flu on top of that. (my back never healed back to where it was unfortunately). Despite those challenges, my mood and spirit were good...............really good and my cfs symptoms remained stable with no crash, PEM..etc. I was told I might have to think about spinal surgery (will be my 2nd) and I was fine with it (for the most part). My attitude was I just gotta do what I gotta do.


Go forward in time 2 1/2 months. No way in hell do i think my body can withstand a spinal surgery! No way in hell do I want one. Usually my mood doesn't start changing until October, but this year it's starting early. I'm already getting more sluggish and all of my usual symptoms are creeping up in intensity. My mood is getting low. I want to go into hibernation and come out next spring.


For those that experience SAD..................what month does it usually start and end for you? Do you experience mild, moderate or severe changes with this? I would rate mine moderate to getting close to severe. The severe part correlates mainly with my mood............but it does wax and wane in intensity.

Hugs to all
 
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keepswimming

Senior Member
Messages
339
Location
UK
I'm so sorry to hear about your injury @Tammy ! It sounds like if you choose to have surgery you need to wait until spring!

I think I get a form of SAD, but it's strangely short lived - I plummet into low energy and mood at the beginning of November, shortly after the clocks change in the UK. But for me it's really short lived - after a few weeks, my body adjusts and I am nearly back to normal. By December I'm usually over it.

This isn't an ME thing, I've always experienced it. But of course now the fatigue feels worse as my normal energy is much lower!

I've tried SAD lamps but it gave me headaches, and as my body seems to adjust after a few weeks anyway I just wait for it to pass.
 

Tammy

Senior Member
Messages
2,204
Location
New Mexico
I'm so sorry to hear about your injury @Tammy ! It sounds like if you choose to have surgery you need to wait until spring!
Thank you and yes, if Surgeon does in fact recommend the surgery, I am crossing my fingers he does say it is ok to wait until next Spring. I have a follow up with him next month to go over the MRI results. The disc is in pretty bad shape. It has been since 2012! I'm surprised it has held up this long.

I am so happy for you that the SAD is short lived!:)
 
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Hip

Senior Member
Messages
17,990
For those that experience SAD..................what month does it usually start and end for you?

I get the first melancholic feeling of SAD around the 20th of August, almost like clockwork every year, even if the UK summer is still in full swing, and the days are still filled with sunlight. I am not sure why that is.

But for me SAD starts to hit strongly in September and October.

However, these days I use SAD lamps that deliver sufficient lux levels of light into my eyes, and that prevents any major SAD depression misery. I am sitting now with SAD lamps surrounding my computer screen as I write this. I have to squint because the light is so strong! See this post for details on SAD lamps.
 
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maybe some day

Senior Member
Messages
775
Location
West coast
Mine hits me anywhere from August to october. It really gets bad when turn the clock back an hour. It's also a bit of a trigger that the holidays are around the corner, I used to love them especially thanksgiving. Now I just want to get through it.
 

lenora

Senior Member
Messages
4,989
@Tammy....Hello, and to think that you live in a sunny climate even. New Mexico, isn't it?

I'm surprised that people are affected by SAD as early as in August.

I would say that my problem is the opposite. The summer here in TX can be difficult, but I still make a point of sitting on our porch each day, if I can. The trees and life with birds and squirrels makes it worthwhile.

I'm older now and oddly enough feel myself changing. Sitting by the fire listening to the wind whistling down the chimney isn't a good feeling. I get agitated with having to spend hours inside instead of on the porch. Why? A changing body, although I like the comfy feeling of being cold in the room at night and snuggled under the covers. (We don't like either air or heat blowing on us at night.)

Days pass, and your season will soon appear again. I'm just sorry that you may feel miserable in the meantime, although I'm glad that something can help you overcome some of the sadness.

Oh, the holidays yes. I know what you mean....where did the joy go @maybe some day? Perhaps we try too hard to make everything perfect when our mothers used to put different salt and pepper shakers on the table and a special relish tray. Apart from that, everything stayed the same....still dishes to wash and a big clean-up, but things were more low key and we enjoyed it more.

The Christmas tree was always fresh and went up just a few days before Xmas. Decorations were thrown on by children.....my father (who has been dead for 61 years) used to put the tree in the stand, but our parents never decorated anything. We put too much emphasis on "perfection" and it spoils things. At least that's my feeling, too. I start feeling the holiday blues at Halloween. Poor Thanksgiving seems to get more lost each year. Yours, Lenora
 

Violeta

Senior Member
Messages
3,020
So sorry to hear about your back injury and SAD, Tammy.

I wonder if this might be a clue to what is going on.

Researchers have found that people with SAD may have an imbalance of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects your mood. Their bodies also make too much melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, and not enough vitamin D.

I don't know what to think about the "serotonin", so I kept looking and found this article about Ray Peat's thoughts on the topic.

https://www.functionalps.com/blog/2011/09/30/light-is-right/
 

lenora

Senior Member
Messages
4,989
Hello @Violeta....I don't know if you were directing your thoughts to Tammy or the community at large.

Actually, I found many of Ray Peat's ideas confusing. He may or may not have a point, and how does he account for the younger age of death in our ancestors than what we're experiencing now....based on melatonin and serotonin alone? True, we've made progress in medicine, of course....but it still doesn't explain his theories.

Personally I haven't found melatonin to be helpful for my sleep problems in the least and try to avoid it. Serotonin may play a larger part than any of us suppose, I simply don't know.

I do believe that being outdoors is good for us, but I don't think what he says about sun exposure is correct for many of us. I'm particularly fair and too much sunlight has always been my enemy. I'm outside sitting on a shaded porch....but I wouldn't be outside at all if sun exposure was a problem. I do develop skin cancers, some rather serious. Does sun exposure affect our sleep? Probably and yet I find an excess of heat and sun can often be too much for me.

Truly, I believe some people are affected by the change in summer/winter light, probably the majority, but I also know that I've been affected by longstanding (30 yrs. ++) sleep problems that I've tried almost everything for. Neurologists have taken the same view that I do....it's something that I'll have to deal with and I reached that conclusion long before them. Trust me, I tried.

Interesting about light exposure being good for bipolar illness though. My family members who had it were often hospitalized during the winter....so this does need more study. Of course this is a small no., but it wouldn't surprise me if that were true. Some were much, much darker than me and others were fair, but not as fair as I am. Interesting....and thank you for sharing. Yours, Lenora
 

Violeta

Senior Member
Messages
3,020
@lenora, I should clear something up from my post, the sentence about serotonin, melatonin, and vitamin d isn't from Ray Peat, that's just from the internet.

The information at the link is from Peat and I've been busy all day so I'm not sure if it's similar to the sentence or not.
 

lenora

Senior Member
Messages
4,989
Thanks, Violeta. As usual, we're all individuals and what works for me may not work for you. It would be so much easier if we were all the same. (Except in our thinking....where would we be without different interests and ways of looking at things?). Yours, Lenora
 

Tammy

Senior Member
Messages
2,204
Location
New Mexico
Update on Fall/Winter season 2023. I decided starting in September I was going to try 3 things to help ward of the low mood I get this time of year and so far this season is going better as far as SAD symptoms (cross fingers). I decided in September I would start Vit. D every single day and stick with it. I also started back on L-phenylalanine to help increase dopamine and 5htp to help with serotonin levels. I do not take the phenylalanine nor the 5htp every single day due to budget but have been taking it every other day. I started out taking the Vit. D every single day for 2 months and now I take it 4-5 days out of the week. These things have made a difference so far. Hope it lasts!
 
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Tammy

Senior Member
Messages
2,204
Location
New Mexico
Hello everyone.....@Tammy, how much vitamin 'D' do you take per day? Any special time? I hope this regimen will continue to work for you and @belize44, now you have additional information. Yours, Lenora
Thank you Lenora. I take 2,000-3,000 IU's of Vit. D3 drops. I take it mainly in the afternoon when I take most of my supplements.
 

Mary

Moderator Resource
Messages
17,562
Location
Texas Hill Country
I thought I had SAD, but after reading these posts I don't think I do. I'm extremely sensitive to the sun or lack thereof. If it's overcast all day, so is my mood. But if the sun comes out, I immediately feel better. So it's not a seasonal thing for me per se - I remember last spring was very depressing for me. It was cold and grey, very little sun. It's been gloomy here the last few days but today the sun is out so I feel better.

This isn't SAD, is it? My mood doesn't change with the seasons, just day by day depending on whether or not the sun is out. I don't mind storm clouds too much - but the drab dreary featureless grey white skies are depressing to me.
 

hapl808

Senior Member
Messages
2,213
This isn't SAD, is it? My mood doesn't change with the seasons, just day by day depending on whether or not the sun is out. I don't mind storm clouds too much - but the drab dreary featureless grey white skies are depressing to me.

Not really sure the specific diagnostic guidelines, but could be related as I think one of the treatments for SAD is full spectrum light box exposure?
 

Mary

Moderator Resource
Messages
17,562
Location
Texas Hill Country
Don't think so Mary................but in any event just goes to show how sensitive some of us are to atmospheric conditions.
Not really sure the specific diagnostic guidelines, but could be related as I think one of the treatments for SAD is full spectrum light box exposure?
Yeah, I've wondered about the full spectrum light boxes though have not given them a try, yet . . . still thinking about it!

I have often wondered how I would feel if I could get out and walk or run or bicycle -move - anything! - I don't think I would be as dependent on having the sun shine to be in a halfway decent mood!
 
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