Friday, August 8, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Only in San Francisco is it possible to have Seasonal Affective Disorder all summer long. Instead of shorts and swimming weather, summer in the city feels like the coldest part of the whole year. I knew this growing up, having to leave the warm sunny Castro for school in the gloom of the Stonestown/SF State area. But now that I live in Marin and commute to work just off Van Ness 5 days a week, I've upped the extremes and make a daily journey from summer to winter, back to summer again. As a native it feels disloyal to say it, but jeez the weather in San Francisco really makes it suck.

Since I just spent a minute or two reading about SAD (love you,!!), I now know that it's a form of depression that affects most people in fall and winter as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. The symptoms of the most typical form, winter-onset SAD, include:
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information
This explains volumes about the population here, the reliance on caffeine, the dominance of pasta. The problem is that we all have this all summer long, then fall comes and we kick into the opposite gear of everyone else in the country since September and October offer the most beautiful and exhilarating weather of the year. Which might explain why this place is so different, why people here are so different. It takes creativity and ingenuity to survive the annual cold when we want hot, so that when everyone else is winding down and getting ready for a long winter's nap, we are just getting started.

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