Lange: SAD

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(Host) One in ten Vermonters suffer from seasonal affective disorder during mid
winter. Willem Lange has some suggestions for overcoming it.

(Lange) The winter solstice is almost upon us, and I’m very glad of it.
Beginning on June 22nd each year, I feel like an institution that’s
drawing on the principal of its endowment. But on December 21st the
earth’s north pole will be tipped about as far away from the sun as it’s
going to be in our lifetimes. The next day will be just under a minute
longer. Progress toward daylight will be agonizingly slow at first; but
by the 22nd of January, we’ll have gained a full half-hour. And less than two weeks after that, on Candlemas Day, February 2nd, we’ll begin to have gradually warming temperatures, as well. We’ll be putting money back into the account.

Vermonters, especially those beyond the age of skiing, find the cold
and darkness daunting and depressing. They might consider the plight of
London, where the January temperature is 15 degrees warmer than it is
here, but the darkness is much deeper; London’s at the same latitude as
Moosonee, Ontario, on James Bay. Still farther north, in the village of
Kugluktuk, Nunavut, my friend Larry tells me the sun, because of the
hills to his south, goes down November 26th and reemerges in mid-January. We’ve got it relatively easy here.

we do experience what amounts to an epidemic of depressive symptoms
known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. During the depth of
winter, only 1.4 percent of Floridians have it; in New Hampshire, it’s
nearly one in ten. Sufferers can exhibit serious mood changes. They feel
an increased need to sleep and cruise the kitchen for comfort food;
they have little energy, and get depressed easily.

The good
news is that we don’t experience the spike in alcoholism and suicide
common in Finland and northern Russia. Many schools in those countries
have daily hot-tub sessions with full-spectrum lights to keep the kids
healthy. We can google SAD and find a host of remedies available
on-line: full-spectrum desk and floor lamps – even so-called light boxes
that look like miniature tanning booths – that provide the benefits of
sunlight. Don’t try the tanning booth, however; it’s death on your skin.

Or, if we forgo holiday shopping and
a few luxuries like eating out for a month or so, we can get out of
here. Round-trip to Miami is less than a thousand dollars, about the
same as from Boston to Nice on the shores of the Mediterranean. Miami is
jammed with snowbirds in February and March; Nice isn’t. Its hotels are
cheaper, you can dine for less, and if you like, you can join the old
ladies knitting baby clothes on the topless beach beside the English

Another sure cure for depression is
driving on the French high-speed highways. You won’t have the time to
get blue. Just be sure, when you stop for fuel, to check the cap for the
recommended fuel. I speak from
painful experience, and believe me: getting that wrong is really

This is Willem Lange in Montpelier, and I gotta get back to work.

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