Yes, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. But if darker, shorter days dampen your mood, sap your energy, send you on eating binges or plunge you into a full-fledged depression, a candle won't be enough.
It's now thought that about 5% of people in the USA have so-called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Michael Terman, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. An additional 10% to 15% have milder versions of the symptoms, including low mood, low energy, oversleeping and overeating, he says. Terman believes there is yet another group with what he calls SANS: seasonal atypical neurovegetative syndrome.