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Diatribe: When Seasonal Depression Hits You Hard As A Humboldt Penguin.

02/08/2014

ANK00039.jpgI, for one, have had enough of winter weather.  It seems that this winter started out cold, got colder and has since stayed even colder.  Record snowfalls, extreme cold temperatures and talk of a “polar vortex” have been making headlines for weeks.  It’s become difficult for many folks to remember the last time they saw sunshine.

It can be downright depressing.

Some say there’s no such thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as “seasonal depression”, but the condition in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer is recognized as a common disorder.  Many people experience serious mood swings when the seasons change.  I notice a difference when Daylight Savings Time is recognized twice each year when clocks are adjusted by only one hour.  Symptoms of SAD, which includes sleeping too much, having little to no energy and extreme depression, can sometimes be severe but can usually be treated and often times clear up with time.

There are many different treatments for seasonal depression, including light therapy with sunlight or bright lights, antidepressant medication, behavioral therapy and, sometimes, hormone therapy.  Some treatments work better for some patients while others find success in different ways.  Apparently, the Humboldt penguins living at a British wildlife sanctuary require medication to combat their seasonal depression.

SeaLifeCenterHumboldt penguins living in the wild grow accustomed to withstanding terrible weather in coastal areas of South America but those living at the Sea Life Center in Scarborough are struggling with the constant wind and rain that the area has been experiencing.  Apparently, after more than a month of extreme weather that includes constant wind and lashing rain the penguins are just plain miserable.

I would be, too.

Apparently, caretakers are concerned based on previous experience that the stress brought on by the weather and resulting depression will take its toll on the penguins’ health by lowering their natural defenses and leaving them vulnerable to illness.

So the penguins are getting uppers to try to head off any more serious symptoms.

P-PhilHopefully, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t really see his shadow last week and winter will end sooner than he would like us to believe.  I, for one, would like to see some sunshine and I’d hate to see the Humboldt penguins with a monkey on their back for any length of time.

Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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5 Comments
  1. I do not, but I live in a more temperate climate. Having just read Hugh Curtler’s post on the latest forays of the NRA, this additional kind of depression gives more reason for pause. Sorry for the segue.

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  2. I actually do suffer from the aptly named SAD. I use vitamin D3, light therapy and exercise to combat the problem, but this year it has been incredibly difficult with the relentless cold and frequent snowstorms. I try to find the beauty in the season, buy cozy pajamas and read books that help me escape, but I have to leave the house every day and I’m slapped right back into winter every time I open the door. The only bright spot is knowing that eventually, winter will be over and spring will be here.

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    • I’ve been trying to focus on the fact that the days are getting longer by noting the time that the sun actually sets each evening. It’s been a relentless winter and I fear it’s not quite over.

      Hang in there!

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  3. I know of several folks who go on a low dosage Effexor prescription during the long, dark winter. Then wean off as spring arrives. Some have been doing this for years. All meds prescribed and above board.

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