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view from the top : Numerous trails of Mount Naomi lead through some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found in the intermountain west./ Photo by Melissa Kamis
Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

Winter blues got you down? Maybe it's SAD

By Curtis Browning

March 2, 2004 | During the winter months, many people who are normally cheerful and energetic are finding they have lost their zeal for life. If you feel like this you are not alone. More than 10 million Americans suffer from the winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with another 25 million suffering from a mild form of the disorder.

Some symptoms of SAD are irritability, blue or anxious moods and violence. Victims usually have an increase in appetite and tend to sleep longer. They usually begin to feel symptoms in the fall and then are able to get some relief in the spring.

WebMD's Dr. David Avery said, "People with SAD tend to stay in a deep sleep later into the morning than usual, then feel lethargic, drowsy and 'wiped out' during the day -- much like a case of jet lag. Unlike jet lag, however, the distorted sleep patterns of SAD can persist for weeks or months. It's easy to imagine how this could lead to a major depression."

Symptoms are at their peak between the months of January and February. Also, depending on where you live symptoms can be greater and longer lasting.

"It appears to be more common the further you get from the equator. For instance, while about 1 percent of people in Florida get SAD, it's closer to 10 percent in New Hampshire," said Avery.

Researchers have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of SAD, but believe that higher levels of a sleep-related hormone called melatonin may be the cause of the disorder. The longer one spends in the dark the more melatonin their body is able to produce. Many psychologists are using a treatment called light therapy to give patients some relief.

John Bulck, a graduate student and Ph.D. candidate at Utah State University said, "Patients sit under a lamp at the same time each day for a set amount of time. It mimics all the good stuff from the sun." Bulck said the body is not getting as much vitamin D as it needs, which raises serotonin levels in the brains neurotransmitters.

Penny Sneddon, also a Ph.D. candidate at USU said, "We encourage those suffering with SAD to seek routines and do things that they enjoy."

If you are suffering here are some things that can be done.

Be sure to exercise during the winter. As the temperature falls peoples' activity level tends to decrease and the weight tends to increase.

Garrity Bingham, a junior at USU said, "The cold doesn't deter me from running outside. Exercising in the winter helps me think more clearly, and I get to wear a nice hat!"

Sierra Samson, majoring in communicative disorders at USU said, "Winter makes my aunt blue and she is normally a happy aunt." Samson also said she plays the guitar during the winter to help keep her mood positve.

According to, a Web site designed to assist people in making healthy life choices, eating the right foods will also help you during the winter months. Vegetables will help your body produce the right chemicals and give you immune system a boost. Foods that are wholesome, like organic milk, yogurt and whole grains will give you more energy.

Also, get lots and lots of light. According to the Mental Health Association, light therapy is one of the most effective treatments for people with SAD. Natural light is best and spending one hour outside on winter days will show improvements in your mood.

USU student Traci Fowler said, "When I worked outside all summer I was happy and energized. Usually in the winter months I'm less active and so my mood generally reflects that."

According to Eddy Elmer of International Network on Personal Meaning, it is important to find contentment. Meaning to figure out what truly makes you happy and then live by it.

"I encourage people to find contentment inside themselves and less in the unpredictable, unreliable, and disappointing world," he said. "Contentment won't be enough to make it go away but it will certainly allow us to remain engaged in a meaningful life while we undergo the difficult process of working through our deeper problems."

By doing a few of these suggestions you will find your winter blahs become easier to manage. All of us are better after we survive a Logan winter. Survival is the trick. So make plans for a health and happy winter.



Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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