The Minnesota Blues:
Depression & Seasonal Affective Disorder

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People are depressed and anxious. I keep hearing from friends here in Minnesota that this fall has been particularly difficult. If you know me, you know that I have been struggling with depression for much of my life. In my case, it is mostly seasonal. I feel great during the long sunny days of summer, then fall arrives and everything changes. Emotional pain becomes pronounced, cognition turns dissonant, depression dark and intense. I don’t need to spell out the details.

Lately things have been different. So far this fall, my mood is good, my brain is solid. I have been experiencing only very minor episodes of the usual symptoms. I can’t tell you what a relief that is. In light of the ongoing suffering I see in others all around me, it seems almost miraculous. So what is different?

For the past couple years, I have been making a determined effort to address my condition from many angles: meditation, diet, supplements, exercise, light therapy, disconnecting from commercial media, and more. Much of my overall approach has been inspired by the work of Dr. Henry Emmons, a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness and Buddhist teachings, and compassion and insight into his clinical work. His books include The Chemistry of Joy, which is about treating depression, and The Chemistry of Calm, which is about treating anxiety. Now there is The Chemistry of Joy Workbook, which is a clearer and more interactive version of the original book. The new workbook is, in my opinion, probably the best single resource you could give to someone suffering from depression. Continue reading