Posted at 05:20 PM ET, 12/21/2011

Winter solstice ushers in the dark — and the depression

It’s always darkest before the dawn. And it’s always the very darkest Dec. 22, the shortest day of the year and the winter solstice. The bad news? The solistice ushers in the winter months and seasonal affective disorder. The good news? It’s only getting brighter from here on out.
Starlings come home to roost on Brighton’s Old Pier as the sun sets on Brighton, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Well, at least until we start the whole cycle over again in June.

(This is, of course, is only applicable if you’re living in the Northern Hemisphere. Down south, they’re enjoying the summer solstice. The brats.)

For all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the time also bodes the onset of seasonal affective disorder — “a biochemical imbalance in the body’s hypothalamus gland that is caused by a shortening of daylight and a lack of sunshine,” as Frank Van Riper described it in The Post some winters back. The worst case of the disease can lead to irritability, depression and a lack of libido. Less serious cases just make you want to sleep more.

The solution? Exposure to sunlight. Since the sun will only be out for 9 hours and 26 minutes Thursday, get out for a long lunch. The sun rises at 7:24 a.m. and sets at 4:50 p.m. Enjoy the bright light while you can. Or, if that fails, watch this movie on full screen and wish it were summer in Iceland:

By  |  05:20 PM ET, 12/21/2011

Tags:  National, Winter Solstice, December 21, Seasonal Affection Disorder

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