November 25, 2010

Twilight Zone

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which people whose mental health is stable for most of the year experience depressive symptoms during the winter months. But what about the short-term anxiety, disorientation, or melancholy that you feel in the winter around 4pm when the light starts to change? At first I thought it was just me, but the fleeting depressive state that occurs at dusk is a legitimate phenomenon (although not included in the DSM) and it has a name. It's called Hesperian depression, after the moment when the Greek God Hesperus, the evening star, rises in the sky. 

I've discovered that the best way to combat Hesperian depression is to be doing something at that time other than staring out the window at the darkening sky. For me, the best thing is to go for a run, but a phone call to a friend, a coffee break, or some other quick and pleasant distraction will also do the trick. By the time you're done, darkness will have fallen completely, Hesperus' rise will be complete, and that uncomfortable twilight period will be over.


  1. I love it when it gets dark early in the winter. It means it's OK to go home and get yourself onto the couch with a bottle of wine. It's what you're supposed to do in the winter. Don't try to fight it.

  2. Ahhh! I'm so glad you wrote this one, Sarah. I often find myself staring out the window around 4-5pm, suddenly sad, and so from now on I'm going to go have a coffee instead! Thank you!