SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, acronym SAD [yes, they clearly designed the name to produce the acronym], is a bloody pain. At least in my case.

Light quality and intensity affects mood; the gloomier the environment, the gloomier the person. The converse is generally true, the cheerier the environment, the cheerier the person. The best long-term solution to SAD is to move to, say, Tucson, where even during monsoon season the skies are this gorgeous bright blue. Don't even consider moving to Alaska, not if you expect to last a year; seriously, those struggling with SAD have heightened likelihood of suicide during the winter months, the world just is a complete downer. Conversely, those not affected by SAD but depressed during the winter have a heightened suicide potential when the weather changes and they stay depressed, as they realize it's not just the weather.

There are semi-successful treatments for getting through the dreary months, and they involve tweaking your environment. Bright, high intensity lights, balanced output to simulate mid-day summer light levels, combined with paint matched to the appropriate shade/hue of blue found during mid-day, high summer, has the best effect. Combine this with closing drapes/blinds when it is gloomy out, insuring that the drapes/blinds are highly reflective and/or of a cheery color, helps to remove awareness of the outer gloom.

The light stuff is pretty common knowledge these days, I don't know if the medical crowd has a clue about the impact of color; I'm aware of it as it explains my lifelong infatuation with certain shades of blue, especially in shirts; having certain shades of blue constantly in my peripheral vision has an extraordinary impact upon my functioning.

Nifty idea for tracking down the appropriate shades. Take a digital camera, on a day where the sky just causes your heart to sing with joy, and take photos of the sky. Then run the pictures through color analysis software, which will output the mix of primary colors required to achieve that shade/hue. You can take this down to your paint store and they can mix paint to match; take the photo as well as any analysis you've done, they may have their own color-matching software tied into their mixing machines.

For a really neat effect, take photos of the color at the horizon, mid-sky, and straight up; you'll produce a range of shades due to the different amount of atmosphere the light had to travel through. Paint your walls shading from horizon at the baseboard to straight up at the ceiling, your mind will be tricked into thinking you're outdoors on a gorgeous day!

Blending light and color in different ways in different rooms can result in the mind being able to focus better in different rooms for different activities; you need to be able to work on x type activity, go to y room to be properly stimulated by your surroundings. The final touch in environmental pre-conditioning would be audio, blending sounds/music to sight; OK, the real final touch is tying airflow into the whole thing, to produce a sensory virtual environment appropriate to the task at hand.

Now, for a truly scary situation, combine bi-polar with SAD. Bi-polar being a PC way of saying manic/depressive, combining it with mood swings tied to environmental stimulus is just asking for trouble. I know I'm SAD, and there's reason to suspect bi-polar and some autism-related behaviors.

It's bright and sunny outside. I'm slightly manic right now. I need to go do something!

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