For five people out of 100, there is sadness in the air. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a pattern of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. The sadness starts in autumn and continues through winter... The Winter Blues.
Writer John Steinbeck once said, "A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ."
SAD is a response to the dark mornings, short days, and the lack of bright light in winter. Many feel less energetic, crave carbohydrates and gain weight. SAD is four times more likely in women than in men and usually doesn't start in people younger than 20. The good news is the risk decreases with age.
"The first step toward happiness," advised American Episcopal clergyman George Hodges, "is to determine to be happy."
For treatment, some doctors will suggest light therapy, a 10- to 15-minute session in front of a 10,000-lux light box. But be aware! SAD can be misdiagnosed as a viral infection.
And never mind the antidepressant medications; here's a better solution: if you can't move to Hawaii, then schedule time outdoors in the sunlight each day. "A single sunbeam," said St. Francis of Assisi, "is enough to drive away many shadows."
Inner light evaporates sadness.