By: Caitlin Millett, 2nd year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Program
While the majority of us look forward to seasonal festivities, millions can also expect feelings of depression, fatigue, irritability and poor sleep.
This form of mental illness, commonly known as the winter blues, is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is disproportionately represented in populations furthest from the equator. It is estimated that 1-2% of North Americans have a mood disorder with a seasonal pattern, with 10% of New Englanders versus 2% of Floridians affected. Symptoms of SAD include feelings of hopelessness, low concentration, sluggishness, social withdrawal, unhappiness and irritability.
Decades of research has uncovered the culprit behind this debilitating illness: lack of sunlight and disruption of circadian rhythms.