The Winter Blues

The Winter Blues

This photograph is seasonally premature for New York City. It was taken last winter in Brooklyn.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or as it is more commonly known, the winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people experience depressive symptoms during winter (or in summer). SAD was not recognized as a disorder by experts until the recent years.

The human physiology and the human mind are very sensitive to an array of physical phenomena such as temperature, light and lunar cycle. We are also mentally sensitive to stresses of everyday life. Reports suggest that mental illness is on the rise. It also seems like the number of disorders has risen: ADD, ADHD, Anxiety and Panic Disorders, Bipolar and Unipolar Disorders, GAD, OCD, PTSD, Phobias, Schizophrenia, SAD, Sleep Disorders, SAnD, RAD, and the list goes on. As a friend of mine put it: "In the old days, it was either you were crazy or you were not, these days...".

I do not doubt that for many suffering from these disorders, their experiences are real. On the other hand, I do wonder whether we have become too eager to diagnose the slightest deviations in our mood. Despite the ever-growing mental illness industry, the effectiveness of techniques and drugs used to manage and treat these disorders is somewhat questionable, or at least not transparent. And some even raise questions about the role and influence of the pharmaceutical industry and lobbies on the rise of mental illness. Maybe joining a reading group, having coffee with friends or a winter walk may go a long way to correct our mood before we spend thousands of dollars and mental health experts and take drugs with long lists of adverse side effects.
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