Some Iowans get the “holiday blues” during this time of year, but it may be due to a physiological condition brought on by too little exposure to sunlight. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, can make people feel down and depressed, especially during the cold, dark months of winter.
Cedar Rapids psychologist Dr. Don Damsteegt says suffering from SAD alone is rare.
“Lack of light affects the pineal gland in the brain,” Damsteegt says. “It causes people to feel more heavy and tired just as it causes bears to hibernate in the winter.”
One way to treat the disorder involves simply being around more light. Some people buy a special light box to sit under, which he says makes them feel better.
Damsteegt says it’s relatively common to get the blues at this time of year.
“A lot of people are somewhat depressed in the middle of the winter,” he says. “It’s dark. It’s cold. People are trapped in their homes, indoors.”
On the plus side, Tuesday was the first day of winter and what’s considered the shortest day of the year, meaning, the shortest amount of daylight, and from here out, the days will get longer.
Mark Geary, KCRG, Cedar Rapids