I Have Subsyndromal Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

5 min readNov 4, 2020
Photo Martin Edic

Short cold grey days make November and December a rough time of year

Subsyndromal SAD is a milder form of SAD that 14% of Americans are affected by. The full form of SAD is a depressive order that can also be a bipolar disorder requiring medication and light therapy. It is a more serious condition that may require therapy.

In my case, which is self-diagnosed, I simply lose motivation when the light is lessened in the northeast where I live. I’ve dealt with this all my life but it was years before I knew it was a recognized and common condition. Some theorize that it is an evolutionary leftover from the need to hibernate in winter. This comes from symptoms that include listlessness, sleepiness, having a hard time getting out of bed, and, in some cases, overeating.

We are creatures of light

Last year in November, pre-Covid, I took a 3500 mile train trip across the country and foolishly opted to try and sleep in my seat (more about that trip here). I did stay in AirBnBs in three of my stops but I was so exhausted that I literally slept the entire stay. As a result I missed fun time in Chicago, Denver, and Santa Barbara, CA.

It was a strategic error for me to take a scenic trip during the shortest days of the year when much of the scenery was veiled in darkness. But the timing was bad because of SAD which compounded sleep deprivation with a layer of depression. Needless to say, the trip was hardly a vacation, or even an adventure, under those circumstances.

When I did get to Santa Barbara, which was sunny, bright, and mild, the Southern California light and greenery was a tonic that I breathed in like a thirsty man. I just didn’t get enough of it. But I promised that this year I would take steps to bring more light into my life during the short daylight months.

Walking, daylight LED bulbs, early rising, Vitamin D, and staying busy

In Western NY where I live, the days get very short after the ‘fall back’ stage of Daylight Savings Time, with as little as 7 hours of potential daylight just before the Winter Equinox when the days imperceptibly begin to…


Mastodon: @martinedic@md.dm, Writer, nine non-fiction books, two novels, Buddhist, train lover. Amateur cook, lover of life most of the time!