How have you been feeling lately? Does it seem like you have decreased amounts of energy? Do you feel tired and grouchy? Have you been craving sugar and eating more than usual? In the last two months have you had difficulty getting out of bed in the morning? Are you sleeping more than usual, been less productive, and more irritable?
If you answered “yes” to most of those questions you may have S.A.D. What is S.A.D.? Those three letters are an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a mild to severe depression that affects millions of people each fall and winter. In laymen’s terms we might call it the “winter blues.”
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight, which in turn alters brain chemistry. During the fall and winter months when the hours of daylight are shorter, less light passes through the eyes which then inhibits the release of an important brain chemical, serotonin. When serotonin is not released in sufficient quantities, symptoms of depression may occur. Melatonin, another important brain chemical which regulates our sleep cycle, is released in greater quantities, adding to the depressive state.
How is Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) treated? The standard treatment for this disorder is “light” therapy. In fact, it is the primary treatment recommended by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, and it is also backed by extensive medical research through the prestigious National Institute of Mental Health. The principal behind light therapy is that by increasing a person’s exposure to bright light, the chemicals in a person’s brain can be brought back to normal levels and lessen or remove the symptoms of S.A.D. The advantages of light therapy are that it is simple to administer, requires no medication, and has minimal side effects.
Although (S.A.D.) only affects about 1 in 5 people, there is a similar spiritual disease that affects all of us. Let’s call it Spiritual Affective Disorder. At times our spiritual life may enter a season of sleepiness. We may become lethargic in our love for God and unproductive in our life of service to him. We may be drawn into the darkness of sin and the evil deeds that go with that darkness. In turn our lives are not what they could be. We can obtain spiritual “light therapy” by immersing ourself in the Word of God, prayer and fellowship with likeminded believers. If you are S.A.D. you can be G.L.A.D. (Given Light and Direction) through the ageless truths of God available to all who will seek Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your plans straight.” Proverbs 3:5, 6
Be A Great Role Model
By Russ Hobbs
It’s a new year and some folks have made resolutions that are already biting the dust! Amazing, isn’t it? Most of us claim that we want to make positive changes in our lives and aspire to modeling great behaviors and attitudes to be emulated. But, you know how all of that goes, right? Some how or other what we want to do is not actually what we do! Don’t despair friend, it’s an ancient problem. It was that great Apostle Paul who said: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 We’re right there with the old Apostle aren’t we? Are there any practical tips for us in 2011?
We may consider that if we want to feel great and be a positive influence to others we must; 1. Lead by example, treat people the way we want to be treated. 2. Set a good example, make great decisions that can be passed on. 3. Spread the Word and make it something good, how’s our language? Is it worthy of being repeated? 4. Twist your words in a good way, it’s all in the phrasing, make your words irresistible. 5. Be kind, put kindness out and kindness comes back. 6. Respect God and respect yourself, don’t do things that you will regret. Be a leader NOT a follower. 7. Block out the negative, stop talking trash, stop gossiping and whining about trivial nonsense.
We must remember to think positively, to like the person we stare at in the mirror each morning, (that may mean making some healthy physical, emotional and spiritual changes) be inclusive and welcome others into our world, praying for Gods best for them. Some people are never going to get off the negative merry-go-round and we don’t have the time to waste on their childishness! We can give them to God in prayer and leave the results to His divine plan. We can stay clear of the doom and gloom crowd and strive for peace of mind as we think right, act right and do right in a world that has lost the meaning of common sense living.
*Russ Hobbs is a pastor, counselor, writer, professor and storyteller. He is the Director of Midnight Hour Ministries, an organization reaching out to the lost, lonely and addicted.