by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Winter, early winter, is especially dark. People become particularly isolated in Central Wisconsin during these months.
Those who cope well, like my 87-year-old aunt, keep productively busy with a range of activities from walks, tending animals, baking, sewing, quilting, visiting, sending photos and messages to members of the family in far-flung places.
Altruism abounds. My aunt explains that she spends a great deal of time helping “older folks,” bringing them meals and taking them places. In her area, “older folks” are those over 95. There’s a lot to be said for living in Central Wisconsin.
Many people, whether in Central Wisconsin or many other places, experience a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This manifests when light changes affect a person’s mood and thinking. If this occurs in winter, it is known as Winter Season Affective Disorder.
One form of treatment is a specially designed light box: a person sits in a certain manner within a designated distance from this apparatus. Many find this helps their depression.
More information about SAD can be obtained from:
The scientific research on SAD is especially interesting and complex. Some studies show higher incidence of SAD with increasing latitude in the Northern Hemisphere; others do not. For those interested in a review paper citing many primary sources, AMHF recommends: