I know a writer friend, who is younger than me and suffers from depression. I have always been telling him to remain positive and not let negative thoughts bring him down. I have been in his situation and I am not sure if he realizes or not that study says around 4 to 6 percent of people suffer from winter depression, whereas another 10 to 20 percent may live with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The irony about SAD is that research has shown that only those who are above the twenties suffer from it. So what is SAD?
SAD is a kind of mild depression that usually triggers at the beginning of winter and lasts until the start of summer. Few of us realize it, but I am sure only a few experienced it already: the lethargic feeling of melancholy and strange sad vibes within you.
Technically, one cannot explain why a person looks so sad and depressed during the winter compared to the sunny summer. My friends have asked me this question several times when I lived in icy Northern parts of Canada: why you look so sad always?
It was because of a lack of sunlight. Canada is cold compared to Nepal as the temperature hits -20 to -30 from January and the winter lasts for nearly six months with minimum sunshine and heavy snowfall. This week, Fredericton, the city where I spent my two years, saw 25cm heavy snowfall. Those who live in Kathmandu do not understand how much snow that is. It covers up the streets, cars, and snowfall is so heavy some houses are engulfed by snow.
At such a severe temperature, I couldn’t deal with my SAD as I suffered from cabin fever too. Even in Kathmandu, I know people who stay within their house for the fear of the cold outside. When that happens you develop a fever that makes you stay within the house and you get depressed. So how to deal with SAD?
You will know you are suffering from SAD for the following reasons: change in appetite, weight gain, fatigue, oversleeping (insomnia), getting irritated for no reason, shutting yourself from social meetings, and sensitivity to social interactions. The only way to treat SAD or winter depression is light. Yes, if not sunlight, then one should be sought for temporary lights. Light therapy is the best thing to do for this kind of depression, but luckily we get enough sunlight in Kathmandu.
So one should go out and bask in the lovely sunshine. Whereas, in countries like Canada and Nordic regions, there’s rarely load-shedding so people go for light therapy at their homes or community centers. And few winter sports—unlike me, as I wasn’t familiar with it, and I hated stepping on snowy roads. Even while walking you have to walk like a penguin as the roads are icy slippery. That made me depressed too as I missed how I walked in Kathmandu. Also, if light therapy doesn’t work, one should for counseling and medicinal therapy.
I have to be honest that I have encountered many people here in Kathmandu who seem to suffer from SAD and maybe are not aware of it. One shouldn’t be ashamed that they have SAD but should acknowledge it and work on having the treatment. Because I confess I suffer from SAD, and I only realized when I went to Canada. I couldn’t figure it out when I lived in another part of the world where it was less cold. I felt the slight nudge, but it never occurred to me that if I didn’t see the sun, I’d get depressed. We should educate everyone about SAD and those who don’t suffer from it should help others rather than merely a question: why are you SAD?
No one likes to be sad in their lives. Therefore, my best suggestion is: enjoy the sunshine, get active, stay positive, and if nothing works for you, and if you live in the Northern hemisphere—the best thing to do is to live in a sunny country. I did the same because nothing is important than your mental, emotional, and physical health. If you are healthy; the world will be healthier for you. A