please help me fight seasonal affective disorder

The weather today was so miserable and rainy and dark that it was almost funny. I took an online assessment to see if I suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and it turns out I probably don’t. It asks if you sleep more in the winter than the summer (not really), if you crave starches and sweets (hello, I do all year), if you wake up tired (again, all year), and so on. Basically, I have lower energy and don’t feel like leaving the house if it’s dark and rainy (which is reasonable, no?).
So instead of investing in a light therapy box, I’m thinking I should listen to happy, mood-lifting music–dance music, power pop, that sort of thing. Melancholy music is going to have to wait until summer. Any suggestions?
Also, we’ve got a superbuzzy update. It includes some yarn!

olympus box.JPG

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33 Responses to please help me fight seasonal affective disorder

  1. kelly says:

    hmmmm – it’s hard to get much happier and more sugary than the Cardigans. But, if you’re thinking of something a little more rockin’ (not to mention Japanese!), the Boredoms are great! Let me know and I can send you a mixed, “happy” disc!

  2. kat says:

    I definitely have SAD – no need for online testing here! I bought some make make yarn and the winter knit item book and have already made the two cover items. should post pics. cute, cute!

  3. Lynn says:

    Rather than investing in a “box” (which I have and which helps a LOT with living in PDX), try putting in some full-spectrum bulbs where you usually hang out. I am low-energy and tired all year (long story) but I get sadder and worse in the winter.
    And I want those matryoshka patches! I love all things matryoshka!

  4. Lara says:

    another definite SAD sufferer here.
    Happy music is a really good idea. As is spending as much time outdoors in direct natural light, as possible. As is exercise. And knitting (yes, seriously)
    and my lightbox helps me enormously. But then again, I used to be on meds in the winter because I wouldn’t function any more.
    All the best to you!

  5. Lisa says:

    To show you where my mind is, when I first glanced at the photo I thought it was an assortment of manju!

  6. Swing Out Sister. Remixed Scissor Sisters, but you might have to be a ‘mo (or a ‘mo wannabe) to like that. Early Digital Underground with Tupac. New Order (even though it sounds like a downer, it cheers me up). Pet Shop Boys.
    I’m just describing my iPod for you, aren’t I?

  7. michal says:

    B-52. nothing like sillyness for a cheer-up. and watching monty python’s “the flying circus” helps too. and double up on your B-12 consumption. it helps the energy slumps quite a bit.
    good luck surviving SAD (from a fellow sufferer)!

  8. Sarah says:

    I second the Boredoms – any band with two drummers is a winner in my book. Pizzicato Five are pretty perky and Japanese, too. Twiggy no miniskirto de! Or something like that.

  9. sara says:

    LOL. I think you just described me with the cravings/sleep patterns/energy levels. I’ve also considered a lightbox but I think here the problem is not the rain but the bitter, bitter cold. It’s hard to leave the house when it’s 5 degrees outside!
    I agree with the other Sarah, Pizzicato Five is really great mood-lifting pop.

  10. Peggy says:

    Yarn? Now Superbuzzy is carrying yarn? It wasn’t enough with the zakka and the craft mags and the like? Sigh. I didn’t realize you were the devil, M. Now I think I need some chirpy music. Pizzicato 5 is good, but I swear by 70s funk, and even the not so funky from that era: Abba’s Dancing Queen–but only in private. How about some Brazilian music (Rosalia de Souza is good)? It’s cold and dark up here, but it’s summer down there! Also, she’s not in the general area you specified, but Ella Fitzgerald cannot be beat for mood lifting.

  11. yoko says:

    I try to make sure I exercise a little every week (i.e., work up a good sweat)– keeps the endorphins up. In the wintertime, I find that citrus (either eating or as aromatherapy) is a good mood uplifter. And as for music, I like the Gipsy Kings– always puts a smile on my face.
    If you still have problems with the change of the seasons, though, you may want to talk about it with a therapist. I wish you all the best.

  12. Gina says:

    I think I have the same thing you do — year-around SAD. Who wants to be outside when it’s miserable? I’d rather stay eat, read, nibble on sweets and knit.

  13. Sil says:

    Hmm, I’d prescribe yoga, apple crisp and retail therapy. Clearly I’m not a doctor.
    For happy music I can recommend Asobi Seksu They’re fun. Let me know if you’d like a copy. 🙂

  14. Romi says:

    Make sure you take iron, have the lights on, and fondle lots of yarn. It’s the best recipe for getting through the winter months. 😉 Oh! Forgot chocolate! Doh!

  15. jeanne says:

    I’m with Yoko – another vote for the Gipsy Kings. In fact, it’s their “Mozaique” CD that has kept me going at the gym for years. It doesn’t matter that it’s 5:00 in the morning – I plug them in and I’m off and running! ;D

  16. Holly says:

    My dentist, ever a font of unusual wisdom, suggested taking Omega-3 supplements to fight off the SAD. Either in the form of fish oil or flax seed oil. Or eating fish or milled flax seed. I haven’t done any of this yet so I can’t attest to its efficacy, but he swears by it.

  17. Johanna says:

    I don’t know if you have a Whole Foods local but if you do check to see if they have the full spectrum bulbs. I think I paid $7 and they fit in standard sockets.
    Good luck with the music search. I have no good suggestions.

  18. Aj says:

    I *love* my lightbox: totally worth it (Amazon has the best deal: my doc says it’s 10,000 lutz or don’t bother). My doctor also recommends three heaping teaspoons of ground flax seed a day (I put it in oatmeal or cottage cheese), listening to classical music, cognitive behavior therapy, 30 min. of exercise, deep breathing, eating enough tryptophan, getting regular sleep, and finding reasons to hang out with people and laugh. I took meds for a while so I would have the energy/desire to start implementing those things, and now I’m off the meds and doing okay. It takes time, but I’m happier, and I’m finding my family to be happier as well. Feel free to email if you have any questions (I just got finished taking an 8 week course on fighting depression, or as my friend and I called it, teaching yourself how to be depressed (by not doing what they recommend) :)).

  19. Madeline says:

    I love this post and it makes me think about music in a great way. I’ll look through my music and put a playlist together for ya! I need some mood music myself– pronto!

  20. Sarah says:

    I have the same struggles and the biggest things that I do are; get out of the house every single day, even if it’s just to walk around the corner to the post office or go to the grocery store for milk, open all the shades during the day, make myself get up at a regular time, and recognize when I’m bored and that is whats bothering me.

  21. texcilla says:

    Yeah, the B52’s, also Talking Heads, “lite” hip hop, and CCR, all loud while dancing with a broom! (sweeping, of course) My favorite attitude adjuster is chocolate! and walking the kids to school, when it’s not 30 or 100 out!

  22. Julia says:

    Umm…yeah. I hear you. I just called in to work today “sick”. Yeah, I feel guilty, but I suffered through a long, gray, drizzly day yesterday and I sooo want to curl up with a good book right now. Won’t happen again, promise (at least for another few months anyway). 😉

  23. meimeicrafts says:

    hi – your blog & new venture has added a brightness to my day for a long time, so i hope my list below can reciprocate. i just invested 3 hrs of my life combing thru iTunes for some anti-SAD/sad music, so let me give you some tips – check these out, they are pop-ish punk/alternative. some of these are a few years or so old. here in LA we don’t have the rain but we do have the very early nightfall . . .
    hope some/any of these help!
    a place in displacement/south
    as the rush comes (radio edit)/moby
    raining again (s angelo’s vocal mix)/moby
    chocolate/snow patrol
    everybody come down/the delgados
    gravity rides everything/modest mouse
    hide away/rock kills kid
    i hear the bells/mike doughty
    i turn my camera on/spoon
    it’s beginning to get to me/snow patrol
    one with the freaks/the notwist
    she’s gone/stellastarr*
    the laws have changed/the new pornographers
    underglss/the frames
    work, work, work/the rakes
    i won’t be left/tegan & sara
    speak slow/ tegan & sara

  24. Looby says:

    I always find that 60s and 70s pop was perfect to get me through the long gray Scottish winters. So upbeat and chirpy you can’t help but sing along. If you go to and follow the radio links to radio 2 there are some great shows that you can listen to, I especially enjoy Wake up to Wogan (its the most popular radio show in the UK so it’s doing something right). I also find that The Dish is a great movie to cheer you up, it’s really funny and has a fab soundtrack and awesome 60s costumes. Hope this helps. Just wanted to say got my latest Superbuzzy order, gorgeous owls and tasty candy really made my morning!

  25. alison says:

    You need to get yourself some Hidden Cameras — see if you can get your hands on the latest album, “Awoo,” and then just try to feel blechhy! You can’t!

  26. eireann says:

    Spoon: “I Turn My Camera On”
    The Feeling
    Josh Ritter
    The Samples: “I Can Feel You”
    Tilly and the Wall (their earlier cds)
    Charles Trenet!

  27. molly! says:

    Dude, the new Scissor Sisters! It’s so upbeat it will make you wish you had SAD.

  28. Elizabeth D says:

    For music, go get a copy of Putumayo’s Cuban album (Putumayo is the label, not a band, just in case I’m being confusing). It is the most energizing music I’ve ever owned, and even makes me WANT to clean.

  29. rakka says:

    i’ve read your blog forever but have never commented before. however, i had to come out of “lurker mode” to recommend very strongly that you give the pipettes a listen! they’re so very peppy that they always cheer me up when i’m down!
    oh, and THANK YOU for always cheering me up with your blog!

  30. pinkmohair says:

    Go look at the video I posted today – GUARANTEED to banish any SAD symptoms, especially if you sing and dance along to it while sweeping. It has to do with the neurotransmitters that are activated with vicious head shaking. Come on over!

  31. Gwen says:

    Lily Allen! Great, bouncy music, and fantastic lyrics. Her album isn’t out in the US until next year, but most independent music stores carry the import without the usual “import markup”.
    Also, taking the SAD test made me realize that I’m just sleep-deprived. I sleep 6.5 hours on workdays, but 8 hours on weekends. I never really thought about it until I saw the numbers on the page like that.

  32. heather says:

    camera obscura! and the pipettes — both are super cheerful and have been known to induce dancing when no one else is watching.

  33. May we add a serious note here? Your fun entry on seasonal affective disorder (11 Dec), with link to our on-line quesionnaire, has brought hundreds of readers to our site, nice! This does suggest that the issue is not trivial for many people. Pardon our interjection, but the conclusion you drew is wrong. Sleeping in on dark, rainy days — regardless of the season — is actively depresoogenic, and — yes — light therapy can help. Even people with SAD will pull their light boxes our of the closet in midsummer when the weather is bad, and get an immediate lift. No joke!

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