Seasonal Affective Disorder – It could be more than the fact your garden is dead

OvercastIt’s snowing… and sleeting… again. This is not surprising as we may not see sunshine for near a month at a time in the winter. Cleveland is not friendly to those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.   I have heard that we have more overcast days than any other city in the US, including Seattle.  

I also think that gardeners are more prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder  in the winter. Not only do we take in higher than average levels of ultra violet rays in the summer that are suddenly withdrawn when the temps drop, we have to watch our hard work crumble and die. No matter what our mind logically knows should happen; the heart does ache a little at the loss.

Depression, even short term, “damn-you-mother-nature-for-your-fickle-seasonality” kinds, should not be taken lightly. So, as a public service, here are the signs:

  • A drop in energy level
  • Tired all the time
  • A tendency to oversleep
  • Weight gain
  • Eating more sweet or starchy foods
  • Heavy arms or legs
  • Hard time concentrating
  • Irritable
  • Avoidance of social situations

Wow, to tell the truth, most of those things would probably happen to a gardener regardless of SAD.

“A tendency to oversleep” – well, of course. We are catching up on all the sleep we lost during the gardening season while we frantically worked in the garden.

“Weight gain” — Well, we just are not getting as much exercise as we did in warmer weather.

“Eating more sweet or starchy foods” — That’s because there is no tasty fruits and vegetables coming from the garden.

“Hard time concentrating” — That’s because we are too busy planning in the back of our head what we will be doing with the garden next year.

“Avoidance of social situations” — Who wants to go out if there are no flowers to see?

“Irritable” — No garden = bad mood. It is a simple equation.

Perhaps this just means we just cannot avoid the problem.   Gardeners are just automatically affected by SAD.   It is in our very fiber.  

The recommended treatment for SAD is light treatment, preferably with a full spectrum light. Grow lights for people, really. Actually, I think that you can kill two birds with one stone. Set up the light therapy lights and plant some seeds, then both you and your seeds can sit under the light. If the light therapy does not work, the garden therapy will and you are getting a jump on next gardening season.   I think I am going to go set up the grow lights right now.

13 thoughts on “Seasonal Affective Disorder – It could be more than the fact your garden is dead
  1. Hanna,

    I think you hit the nail on the head! Very logical explanations for everything I’m feeling. Can’t dig in the dirt, so I think I’ll have to go dig in some snow!



  2. John Hric on


    Some rumor it is an affliction of cooking show hosts – causing bland dishes.. fortunately this too is a case of misconstrued alphabits.

    Actually S.A.D. is a not so clever ploy by the dark side to detract from a rather joyous event Solstice Arrival Days. Yes DAYS, not day DAYS. So turn on the bright lights and party.

    To drive back the dark days a dozen accompanying definitions of SAD, some daffy-nittions.

    1. Spending Agri Dollars
    2. Selecting Awsome Daylilies
    3. Specifically Astounding Daffodils
    4. Stunning Ample Dahlias
    5. Sumptuous Apple Dumplings
    6. Simmering Apricot Delights
    7. Scilla, Aquilegia (and Snap-)Dragons
    8. Surviving Age Devonian (and more)
    9. Savor Another Draught
    10. Splendid April Developments
    11. Silly All December
    12. Simply Astounding Dearest ( how did that get there ??? – ahh the garage looks sooo cold ! )


  3. When I was a seasonal landscaper I used to get sad real bad. That was before I took up snowshoeing. I used to languish when I could not work or pedal my bike. I worked at a college, on the grounds grew, for four years. I also spent one year at the school’s stable with the horses. This was my first year round job. After 24 years of not working winters I stopped having S.A.D. I would recommend snowshoeing to any gardener, or cyclist, who needs a lift. Today, after I get some sleep, we will go out to pack some of our new snow. Peace to all.


  4. Thanks for the post, Hanna. Since moving up north, I’ve always gotten the blues when the days start getting shorter, and the fact that it coincides with being less busy at work (I am also a landscaper) makes it even tougher. Gus is a smart one about the snowshoeing — I’m a runner, and agree that the outdoor physical activity helps a lot. While I had a great time bounding through puddles yesterday after our second heavy snow in 1 week, when I’m confined to a treadmill I wish I had a more appropriate seasonal hobby!


  5. Hanna, I love your way of argument. Now that I know what this disease is called, I feel right better. 😉
    As a matter of fact, I have used a grow lamp to light my writing desk these last three years.


  6. LOL. Love it! I get the winter blues here in Vancouver, which is very similar to the Seattle climate. My remedy? Take a sunny winter holiday (Cuba and Mexico are my favourites). You can use your airmile points you earned racking up your card at the nursery.


  7. Excellent post!!

    I’ve suffered from this nearly my entire life. My mom said she recognized it when I was a kid and it probably wasn’t a recognized disorder.

    I like Heavy Petal’s remedy. 🙂


  8. Really good post. In Oklahoma, we don’t have very many cloudy days, but when we have a week of them, I can get pretty unhappy. I’ve used the light bulbs for the last few years during February. Thanks for reminding me.


  9. Hi Hannah,
    I once lived in Finland for a year and though I wasn’t very far north, at this time of the year there was no light at all. I was hit badly by SAD, so badly that I left before the next winter. Made me realise just how much we are affected by external factors such as light.


  10. Hey ! Fellow disgruntled gardeners ; )
    Not only are we not getting the sunshine we need but we literally are not getting the vitamin D that helps us feel better. So remember to take a supplement to top up that SAD feeling .. it works much better in combination with calcium too !
    I send my husband to Cuba in November (with his hockey pals) now they are talking about a golf get-a-way .. hum .. maybe I will be entertaining myself with seed orders while he is gone ? now that will brighten up a SAD time too ! LOL
    Joy : )


  11. I’m not sad yet. I have to admit I get tired of gardening by the end of the season. I’m still enjoying the down time and the chance to be on the computer. Another month though and I know I’ll be clawing at the windows with the cats.


  12. Wow! I think I am victim of SAD. My husband is talking about ski and I am dreaming of sowing my seeds. Being from Brazil, where one can garden year round, I feel very frustrated in Tennessee. I want to go outside without a jacket and I want to play in the dirt. My consolation is that my hellebores are about to bloom. At least there is something going on in my garden. Hanna, thanks for the post, I have been reading your blog for a long time, I love it and I promise to leave comments frequently.


  13. I am so glad to see Im not the only one looking to get my hands and feet in the dirt and to feel the sun. I like the idea of snow shoeing, I have a tanning membership to keep me feeling better. I still want to play!


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