On the first business day since turning back the clocks, with darkness coming an hour earlier Monday afternoon, a sign on a local muffler shop reminds passersby that winter draws nigh. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

On the first business day since turning back the clocks, with darkness coming an hour earlier Monday afternoon, a sign on a local muffler shop reminds passersby that winter draws nigh. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

🙁 The end of DST marks the start of SAD

It’s possible to fight seasonal affective disorder, but it takes effort.

A little afternoon rain. Periods of rain. Cloudy with a stray shower. Mostly cloudy, rain possible. Cloudy with rain possible. Rain at times. Rain and drizzle possible.

Oh, AccuWeather, your forecast for Everett’s near future is one sad story. It leaves those of us bothered by seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, longing for bright spring mornings and late-day walks in the sun.

And it’s not even winter yet.

Gaining that extra hour with the switch to Pacific Standard Time last weekend offered little comfort. As a native of sunnier Eastern Washington, I dread the months we’ll spend in darkness. And I’m not alone.

“It’s time for my annual rant against the time change,” Herald digital news editor Chuck Taylor wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. “This year, daylight time lasted 238 days. That means ‘standard’ time accounted for a mere 37.4 percent of the 2017 calendar. There’s nothing standard about that.

“At the very least, we should regard those 238 days as the standard time — the dominant clock calendar — and call what is now known as standard time ‘winter time,’” Taylor wrote.

So here we are, in wintry darkness during hours that ought to allow for late-autumn outdoor activities. It’s possible to counter winter blues, or at least seasonal blahs, but it takes effort. And effort, as every couch potato knows, tends to go out the window when dreary weather arrives.

By the winter solstice, Dec. 21, the sun won’t rise in Everett until 7:56 a.m. Sunset that day will come at 4:18 p.m. That’s little more than eight hours of daylight.

Rather than sinking into despair or grabbing leftover Halloween candy, we’d do well to heed the advice of Dr. Nina Maisterra. A family medicine physician at the UW Medicine Belltown Clinic in Seattle, Maisterra talked about SAD in a videotaped interview released last week by UW Medicine.

Seasonal affective disorder, Maisterra said, is a subset of depression. She listed symptoms familiar to most of us, “such as feeling kind of down in the winter months.”

People have less energy, tend to crave carbohydrates, and become less interested in socializing, Maisterra said. Research has linked SAD to changes in circadian rhythms and serotonin levels, she said.

Treatments, Maisterra said, may include cognitive behavioral therapy that’s focused specifically on SAD; medications known as serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, which work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain; and light boxes, used either as dawn simulators or by sitting for a spell each day with light that mimics the outdoors in one’s peripheral vision.

“It’s effective for some people. It’s just like many treatments, sometimes you have to use a combination of therapies,” Maisterra said.

The doctor listed ways to stave off winter blues that don’t involve full-spectrum light therapy or medication: “Planning get-togethers with friends. Making sure you’re staying connected socially,” she said. “And exercise can be very beneficial all year round, but especially at this time.”

She warned that like other depression, SAD can become so serious that a person is at risk for suicide. “Always reach out to your health provider, to people who can help you, if you feel like your symptoms are getting worse,” Maisterra said.

In downtown Edmonds, pedestrians who brave rainy days this fall are being rewarded with snippets of poetry.

Fragments of verse by noted poets are painted on sidewalks at the Dayton Street Plaza, outside the Frances Anderson Center along Main Street, near the entrance to the Edmonds Library, outside City Hall along Fifth Avenue N., at the Hazel Miller Plaza on Fifth Avenue S., and at the northwest corner of Main Street and Third Avenue N.

Laurie Rose, an arts assistant with the city, said bits of poems by Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, William Wordsworth, Rumi, D.H. Lawrence, Emily Dickinson and Phillis Wheatley show up only when wet.

Special paint used for “Edmonds Rainwalk 2017,” which was stenciled on, is temporary. The display, installed for the recent Write on the Sound writers conference, was created through the Edmonds Arts Commission by EPIC Group Writers, a local nonprofit, with help from Clayton Moss of Forma, an Edmonds design firm.

“The fog comes on little cat feet,” which opens Sandburg’s famous poem “Fog,” is especially well suited for the season.

Poetry on a rainy sidewalk isn’t enough to see me through another winter. That’s what winning football teams are for.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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