Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is one of the many forms of depression that can create an unspoken underbelly of darkness to peoples lives. South Africans are less prone to the disorder than many from European countries, especially those from areas at latitudes that go through long dark winters or prolonged grey misty rain. This however, is no assurance that we are unaffected. Here in the Cape we have a Winter rainfall pattern that can go along with people being blown away from the wet outside world and indoors to darker spaces and critically, this leads to a lack of vitamin D.
Being in direct sunlight is our best source of obtaining Vit D, and this is one of the building blocks towards mental health. Walking as close as possible to the edge of the ocean during a sunny break from the winter rain is a good way of restoring vital inner resources. In this time when skin cancer has given the sun very bad press, it is crucial to remember that some sensible exposure to the light and beauty of our outdoors can be healing and not just harming.
The Cape is often described as four seasons in one day, and even business people are known to take a break and go surfing at some point during the winter months when the waves are at their best. They may not be aware of it but this is a good anti-depressant and great for their productivity.
Getting outdoors is not just healthy for the young and strong. I have seen how the Groeneweide old age home in Darling would roll people in wheelchairs out into the sunlight during the winter months just to get that healing touch of warmth that no blanket provides in quite the same way. This displays a level of insight that the staff have into caring for the inner psychological well being of their community and not just their physical existence.