If you’ve followed Michigan in Pictures for a long time, you’ll recognize this photo of the Ludington North Breakwater Light from 10 years ago. I love the photo so much that I thought I’d bring it back for an encore.
If you click the link above, you can read about the lighthouse, and if you head over to The Atlantic, you can learn about how Scandinavian countries are combatting seasonal affective disorder (SAD):
First described in the 1980s, the syndrome is characterized by recurrent depressions that occur annually at the same time each year. Most psychiatrists regard SAD as being a subclass of generalized depression or, in a smaller proportion of cases, bipolar disorder.
Seasonality is reported by approximately 10 to 20 percent of people with depression and 15 to 22 percent of those with bipolar disorder. “People often don’t realize that there is a continuum between the winter blues—which is a milder form of feeling down, [sleepier and less energetic]—and when this is combined with a major depression,” says Anna Wirz-Justice, an emeritus professor of psychiatric neurobiology at the Center for Chronobiology in Basel, Switzerland. Even healthy people who have no seasonal problems seem to experience this low-amplitude change over the year, with worse mood and energy during autumn and winter and an improvement in spring and summer, she says.
Why should darker months trigger this tiredness and low mood in so many people? There are several theories, none of them definitive, but most relate to the circadian clock—the roughly 24-hour oscillation in our behavior and biology that influences when we feel hungry, sleepy or active. This is no surprise given that the symptoms of the winter blues seem to be associated with shortening days and longer nights, and that bright light seems to have an anti-depressive effect. One idea is that some people’s eyes are less sensitive to light, so once light levels fall below a certain threshold, they struggle to synchronize their circadian clock with the outside world. Another is that some people produce more of a hormone called melatonin during winter than in summer—just like certain other mammals that show strong seasonal patterns in their behavior.
Read on for some of their solutions – maybe you’ll find some ideas if you suffer from SAD. I will say that I’ve found regular hikes and walks during the daylight hours in wintertime are key!!
Diann writes What I’m really wondering is whether or not its a good idea to edit out the blue shadows that often show up in winter shots when the sun is behind the camera. She offers this shot for comparison and discussion. She also has a bunch more photos of Ludington’s lighthouse.