If you feel a little changed because the sun is now at 5pm, consider this: The sun was set for the last time this year on the people of Barrow, Alaska, the northern city of the nation, November 11. Darkness will take nine weeks until the sun rises again on January 23rd.
By comparison, even on the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice on December 21 – the people of Washington, D.C., will receive nearly 9 hours and 30 minutes of natural light; in Miami, 10 hours and 31 minutes. In Portland, Oregon, it is 8 hours and 42 minutes and in Billings, Montana, 8 hours and 40 minutes.
Many find that short days of the season and longer nights affect their health. Approximately 5% of the population develops seasonal depression, according to Health Mental Health America. Low amounts of daylight triggers a slight "winter white" in another 10-20%, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Seasonal affective disorder or DAS affects women much more often than men; 4 out of 5 people with DAS are women. It also affects people under 30 years of age more often than the elderly. Symptoms include typical signs of depression – low energy, sleep problems, changes in appetite and weight, and loss of interest for your favorite activities.
But with DAE, the symptoms come and happen with the season. Nobody knows what causes DAD, but most experts correlate their evolution with a lower exposure to sunlight. This can disrupt the body's internal clock, spark depression and reduce body serotonin levels, increase melatonin levels, and reduce vitamin D levels by affecting your mood.
Treatment options include light treatment – sitting in front of a special light box from 20 to 60 minutes a day – as well as behavioral and possibly antidepressant therapy.
If transfer is an option, consider the south position. The closer you are to the equator, the lower the risk for seasonal depression.