Yesterday was winter solstice, but unfortunately, the news isn’t quite as good as we would hope. The fact is we’ll only pick up five seconds of light today (December 22nd), building to 16 seconds on Christmas Day. We’re in a time period that the U.S. Naval Observatory describes as “the Equation of Time,” which is a sort of push-pull for the times of sunrise and sunset. “The Equation of Time prevails until January 5, when the declination effect takes over and sunrises begin to move earlier,” the observatory says. “So January 5 is the date of the latest sunrise.”

This is a time of year when many feel blue. There is the rush of the holidays, the emotional issues that can surround the holidays and the darkness. If you notice periods of depression that seem to accompany seasonal changes during the year, you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In an article by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI) this condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression –  usually in late fall and winter – alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year. The usual characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain. Additionally, there are the usual features of depression, especially decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal.

SAD can be treated with bright white florescent light. Early studies used “full spectrum” bulbs, but these are not especially advantageous. Bulbs with color temperatures between 3000 and 6500 degrees Kelvin all have been shown to be effective. A colleague told me that she used to have debilitating SAD and that she has it totally under control now by taking a high dose of vitamin D crops every day of the year. Her doctor has told her that all of us who live this far north are permanently vitamin D deficient. This treatment has worked for her.

Again yesterday I used hypnosis with a client who was suffering with SAD. I have been seeing this client for a few sessions now and he reports that his SAD symptoms have greatly diminished thanks to hypnotherapy. Today I finished up teaching him self-hypnosis so that he will no longer need to see me.

If you think that you have the symptoms of SAD, consult a mental health professional qualified to treat SAD, and discuss with them the use of hypnosis as a component of your treatment plan.