“W” is for Weather


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It’s the topic of everyday chatter, the object of complaint and praise. Yet it is the one thing we truly can do nothing about (at least until some sci fi future comes into play)

How does it affect you when the sun glare makes you squint or when fifty shades of gray becomes a mantra rather than a steamy read?

There are those who get a headache when the sun beats on their head. They hate the crows feet of too bright a day and run from shade oasis to oasis to try to prevent freckles or skin damage. And then there are the S.A.D. among us.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder is not just in your mind. Science has now verified that low levels of light over a prolonged period of time truly can cause a depression that is every bit as debilitating as the clinical type.

According ot the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is “a specifier of major depression”. If may include some of the same symptoms as depression: sleeping too much, having little energy to accomplish tasks, withdrawal from friends and family, decreased sex drive and increased appetite.

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While Seasonal Affective Disorder has only been so named since 1980, the presence of its symptomology goes back thousands of years. Percentage of those effected increase with the latitude; persons in the Northern climes raising from a less than two percent prevalence in sunnier climes to over nine percent of the Northern exposure population.

The use of light boxes prove helpful in many cases but their requirement of time spent in front of them daily puts some people off. The adjustment of the circadian rhythm they boost may help lift some of the lethargy.   “Studies have also shown that light influences serotonin and epinephrine pathways in the brain, the same neurotransmitter systems known to be affected in people with general depression.” – Dr Norman Rosenthal, author of “Winter Blues” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/health/policy/light-boxes-may-help-melt-those-winter-blues.html?_r=3&

Does the opposite occur? Are there some people who actually become manic in summer months?

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Evidently, though less common-yes. Although this may at first blush seem ideal, symptomology can include anxiety, irritability and insomnia. Weight loss and increased sex drive—hmm..to a low light SAD sufferer that sounds pretty good. lol.

What about the more subtle and innocuous weather related effects. Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kitten are how Julie Andrews handled the volume of a thunderstorm. To our non-human friends who cannot be soothed through such quaint reassurances, thunder can be akin to hyper anxiety leading to some pretty bizarre, even dangerous behavior. Dogs have been knows to squeeze through openings, ostensibly to hide, that cause damage to their skin and limbs. Cats can disappear all together.

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Hail can damage property, freezing weather?—busted pipes and cars that won’t start. The ferocity of tornadoes and hurricanes dwarf us in their power. as part and parcel of nature, we are indeed helpless in the wake of what this planet can produce.

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Maybe that is all as it should be. We are often the recipients of the fruits of our arrogance. Too many people view humankind as somehow exempt from the laws of nature and weather. We assume this at our peril.

The United States Coast Guard has a duty to save souls who have chosen to ignore the power of the planet, the sea. Although our technological advances have enabled us to do so much more than even our grandparents could have imagined, when it comes to weather beware—erring on the side of caution allows us to enjoy the glory and grandeur of nature’s weather displays.

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