I can deal with cold, and I can deal with dark, but the combination of dark and cold wears on me after a while, and for “a while” read “two days at most.” It’s this damn brain chemistry, maybe:
Scientists say they have identified the underlying reason why some people are prone to the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
People with Sad have an unhelpful way of controlling the “happy” brain signalling compound serotonin during winter months, brain scans reveal.
As the nights draw in, production of a transporter protein ramps up in Sad, lowering available serotonin.
Apparently this is proper British usage, to capitalize (sorry: “capitalise”) only the first letter of the abbreviation. But it certainly reinforces the idea of, um, Sadness.
Lead researcher, Dr Brenda Mc Mahon, said: “We believe that we have found the dial the brain turns when it has to adjust serotonin to the changing seasons.
“The serotonin transporter (SERT) carries serotonin back into the nerve cells where it is not active so the higher the SERT activity, the lower the activity of serotonin. Sunlight keeps this setting naturally low, but when the nights grow longer during the autumn, the SERT levels increase, resulting in diminishing active serotonin levels.
“Many individuals are not really affected by Sad, and we have found that these people don’t have this increase in SERT activity, so their active serotonin levels remain high throughout the winter.”
Mc Mahon is part of the Neurobiology Research Unit at the University of Copenhagen.