I first read Winter Blues by Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal back in the 1980’s when the first edition was printed. It quickly became a bestseller as people were hungry for information about this newly discovered diagnosis, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some of us have trouble in the fall as the days shorten and the days become grayer. My mother used to phone me periodically with “the blues”. She’d say, “I don’t know why I’m so blue. There’s no reason.” We’d talk for a while but I felt helpless to help her.
As for my reaction to light, I always hated January and February as a young girl. I’d say it was because the holidays were over and it was cold, but I now know I too am sensitive to the loss of sunlight. Gray skies and empty trees are my image of winter when my energy diminished. In fall 1986, my mother became seriously ill. I was between jobs and moved from Miami to my sister’s home in Michigan to help care for Mamma. That first October I almost went into the fetal position. It wasn’t the cold; it was the darkness. In 31 days, there were 28 gray days. It was like a grey blanket covered the sky and the sun was extinguished. I lost a lot of my energy and perkiness.
When I read Winter Blues, I finally understood my mother and myself. It explained why at the age of 27, I moved to Miami from Tennessee and absolutely loved the bright days. Yes, it is hot and muggy, but I am happier and healthier. I have more energy and a positive attitude. I have lived in Tennessee and Michigan which are both beautiful states, but I cannot happily live there long-term. When I lived in Michigan in the winter, I used full spectrum light bulbs. Light therapy gives me more energy. It really makes a difference for me. I decided to return to Florida where there is always the sun. I love it.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
- When the dark days of winter approach, do you feel sluggish and slow? Is it a struggle to get out of bed each morning?
- Do you have difficulty focusing at work or in relationships, feel down in the dumps, or, worse still, get really depressed?
- Does it get harder than ever to stick to a healthy diet and control your weight?
If you or someone you know has these symptoms, you really need to read this book. Now in its 4th edition, Winter Blues is a perennial best seller. When it was first released, it was declared a landmark book defining SAD and offering solutions. It is packed with information to help you evaluate your own seasonality and seek relief. There is now a workbook that is specifically designed to assist you in this process. Dr. Rosenthal is still considered the leading expert on this subject. I remember my mother and sincerely wish the book had been available for her.
In his own words:
Dr. Rosenthal: Six percent of the US population, primarily in northern climates, is affected by SAD in its most marked form. Another 14 percent of the adult US population suffers from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes, known as winter blues. Of course, seasonality affects people all over the world. The prevalence of SAD in Oslo, Norway, was reported as 14 percent in contrast to 4.7 percent in New York City. In fact, someone may have winter blues while living in southern climates and convert to full blown SAD if he or she moves to a northern climate.
No one paid me to write this post. I just want to share my experiences, and if my words help even one person, I am thrilled. The book is available on Amazon and many other sites.
For more information, see
Winter Blues, (Amazon, Affiliate Link)