Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect people here even in The Valley of the Sun.

They woke up crying at 4:00 a.m. The spouse slept through it, or at least pretended to do so. That was one of the spoken issues: feeling ignored. Not getting a Christmas gift of the correct pattern and color. The wrong color socks. The wrong Beatles CD. The wrong perfume. The wrong superhero. Windows instead of Mac... Chocolate frosting covered brownies were another clue.

Winslow instead of Santa Fe...

Midori instead of Hillary Hahn...

It probably affects a half a million people in this country. Severely, that is. Jack-Nicholson-rampaging-with-an-ax serious. (The Shining in 30 Seconds.In Bun-O-Vision.)

Another 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from a milder version. Meaning that axes are not the weapon of choice. Santokus, maybe. Symptoms may include:

A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
Weight gain
A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
A drop in energy level
A tendency to oversleep
Difficulty concentrating
Increased sensitivity to social rejection
Avoidance of social situations

Sounds familiar, maybe?

This is serious enough. As a nurse, I know it's really a waste of time to usher a patient through a hospitalization only to have them go home and stick their head in a gas oven. Sometimes a simple request for a psych consult can go a long ways towards the easement of the suffering that can accompany short days.

That's what it's really all about, and it affects people at all latitudes.


Eli Blake said...

My father was a psychiatrist. I remember him sleeping when he could during the day, then writing reports late at night when he was on call, and he'd get a call at 3 AM and had to rush out. Unlike a urologist or a gastroenterologist, when the call comes to a psychiatrist he has to go-- no 'call me in the morning' kinds of things.

may said...

sad really. and i believe it is getting more serious by the minute.

Birdy said...

I realize that all nursing is psych nursing, but when I was in my psych rotation at a community hospital in SF, it was really hard for me to wrap my head and heart around the lack of resources thing. Treating the homeless for psych issues when they'll end up back on the street with no meds and no support? It all made me a little hopeless.

Eli Blake said...

And hey, Winslow can be fun, and it's a whole lot less pricey than Santa Fe. :)