S.A.D.: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Lighting

Seasonal Affective Disorder and It’s Inner Workings: Why so S.A.D.?

I was thinking about my recent blog on lighting, and how people react to the quality of lighting in a room differently.

It made me think about places like Seattle or Switzerland, where the lighting in the winter really affects how people feel. And I don’t mean physically; I mean emotionally.

I don’t remember when I heard about S.A.D.: Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a disorder that occurs in Seattle that has to do with people’s moods affected by the amount of daylight they experience.

I remembered that disorder when I moved to Switzerland, to an area that was in the lowlands. It didn’t get much snow but was just basically gray and bleak during the winter.

I remember people there talking about the same disorder that I heard about occurring in Seattle.

People with S.A.D. (this is what the Mayo Clinic has to say) basically experience depression in places where the amount of natural light is significantly less in the winter than in the summer.

I only heard about that syndrome in the context of Seattle, Washington, and Switzerland. But obviously, if people in those places experience it, then people in all places with the same sort of lighting dynamics would experience the same thing.

I enjoy the gray day or two. But if it stretches into several days or a week of gray, I don’t deal well with that. I feel oppressed and stir-crazy, even if I’m outside.

I lived in Southern California for a long time. One thing I remember about it is a weather phenomenon called June Gloom.
Something about the marine layer made the skies close to the coast gray and  dismal. It could actually be like that the entire day during the summer. Not the whole summer but the early part of it.

When I’ve gone back to visit I’ve noticed that again. I don’t like that part. I much prefer when the marine layer burns off and the sun comes out and it’s nice and sunny like Southern California is supposed to be.

We are interesting creatures, we human beings.

Lighting makes us Happy?

In my blog on lighting, I talked about interior lighting and the effect that dim lighting has on me. That got me thinking about outdoor light and the fact that dim outdoor light not only has an effect on me but on people in general who live in places where they experience limited natural light during summer months of the year.

Don’t you wonder about people who live up in Alaska? Or in the Arctic Circle? Or Antarctica during the winter?
I’ve seen documentaries about wintertime in those places when natural light only occurs for maybe an hour or two a day during the winter. Granted at the North Pole and the South Pole, there are not very many people who live there.
But certainly there are a lot of people who live in Alaska. So you gotta wonder how all of those people manage.

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