I am writing this entry on a dark, cold early January morning. Although the lights have not been taken down as yet in our household, the “holiday feeling” is clearly gone. There is no longer an anticipatory excitement about an upcoming gathering, celebration, gift exchange, etc. These are for the most part, in the rare view mirror and what is in front of us are many dark, cold and event-less days.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”) is felt by most people although the impact can range from only mild symptoms to significant depression. Personally, I know my mood is much better when I leave the office on a sun-filled warm June morning than a dark, cold mid-January morning. I see a number of patients that need prescription medications in order to address their SAD symptoms.
We all need to be cognizant of the impact of SAD on our eating and drinking patterns. The human body has many “reflexes” and one of those behavioral reflexes is to reach for things that make us feel good when we are feeling poorly. A high sugar snack such as chocolate and/or an alcohol containing beverage will provide us with an immediate “feel good” to offset the “feel bad” that we are experiencing. Unfortunately, those eating/drinking behaviors will lead to weight gain. The weight gain or inability to lose weight contributes to us feeling even sadder.
The first step in breaking this cycle is the recognition that this pattern is occurring. Do you find yourself feeling sadness during this time period? If so, do you find yourself reaching for those sugars, carbs and/or alcohol to offset these sad feelings?
If you feel that SAD is impacting you and your weight control efforts, take the next step by seeing your doctor (or me) to discuss how SAD is impacting you and what options are available to help you. This does not mean that you need to walk out of a doctor’s office with an antidepressant prescription.
Those lazy, hazy days of summer are still a ways off. In the meantime, try to not allow SAD to negatively impact you and certainly, your weight control efforts.
And to help you think about summer, here is Nat King Cole singing about those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer.