The cold winter winds of Michigan are whipping across the land chilling many to the bone. Looking upward as far as the eye can see is often just a blanket of grey. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) captures a significant part of the population. Depending upon which report you read the percentage ranges from 6 percent to 20 percent. A pharmacist told me that antidepressant prescriptions increase in Michigan by 300 percent between the months of October and March.
In its mildest form SAD has just depression as one of its symptoms. In the most severe cases people commit suicide. According to articles on the Internet other symptoms include irritability, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal, oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, difficulty in concentrating, difficulty in processing information and loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy.
Interesting is that this is not something you have all your life. SAD is rare in people under the age of 20. However as you grow older its grip on you becomes stronger.
Most of those suffering, especially in mild forms, do not even know they have the problem. Usually SAD is passed off as winter blues or depression. I have noticed that productivity in many offices in Michigan decreases by a large amount during the SAD season.
Some medical experts attribute the cause to a lack of sunshine. There are days in winter when you go to work in the dark, sit under fluorescent lights for eight hours, then go home in the dark.
According to a paper by the Mayo Clinic help can come in the form of pills and sunlamps. There are towns in Northern Europe where the government creates buildings with lights emitting sunshine wave lengths.
My views are from that of a sufferer. I do not believe my case ever became acute. After many years I did notice that the symptoms of difficulty in focusing and processing information hit me hard after some of those 30 days of sun denial.
In my experience the best cure is different from what doctors promote. My method is more natural. I am far from a fan of pharmaceutical drugs. People have reported to me that using such created other problems for them. Sunlamps have never worked for me. One study stated that they do not work for about 50 percent of sufferers. Natural sunlight shining on your body is the best cure. When I started taking winter trips to Florida things improved. Then for six years my winters were spent in sunny California. The increase in my productivity went up tremendously. Rather meaning get the heck out of Dodge – well, Fenton in this case. Of course do not go to some place with more grey skies. Clear skies with the sunshine bathing your body is what really helps.
There are good places in the USA to go. I have enjoyed Key West, Florida and different parts of California. The down side is everyone goes there and the prices rise this time of year.
Colombia is fantastic place to ditch your depression. Prices for many cities are very reasonable. Plus you get to see things you do not see in the USA. As for airfare, I have seen round trips to Bogotá and Cartagena from Detroit on Spirit Airlines for as little as $304. Below are some links about my previous writings to those two cities.
But wait, because the absolute best is yet to come. In coming weeks I will introduce readers to two Caribbean islands which get my top award for recharging your batteries and kicking SAD’s butt. They eschew the shams of tourism and offer pretty much stress free times.
Bogota: "Visit Bogota Before it Becomes Touristy"
Cartagena: "Caribbean Jewel Winter Getaway"