"Winter is coming." For most people throughout the world, these words are generally associated with George R. R. Martin's famous saga A Game of Thrones. But for us here in Alaska, the words aren't merely a pop-cultural reference, but instead ring a very real truth: the days are short, the nights long and cold. That doesn't mean, however, that the winter blues have to come with it.
Approximately 6% of the U.S. population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression characterized by its recurrence around the same time every year. While a small percentage of people afflicted with SAD show symptoms in the spring or early summer, the majority of people with SAD begin to show mild symptoms in the fall, which gradually become more severe as the season progresses, and then begins to subside around the onset of spring. The prevalence of SAD is also higher amongst the northernmost states where winter months are darker, colder, and last longer.