Book review: Winter Blues by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD

The review of this book may seem, to some, untimely, as we’re now (at least here in North Dakota) fairly rapidly coming out of winter, and on our way to spring. However, one can never predict when one will find a good and helpful book, and I submit this now as a way to ‘plan ahead’ and, if you or someone you know/love struggles with seasonal depression, this book can greatly help to alleviate the suffering that goes along with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or its milder cousin, ‘winter blues’.

I learned much about the history of this disorder, which is now recognized by the diagnostic tools of the mental health profession. Once not understood, mis-understood, or ignored, seasonal depression is now more widely recognized and those who are affected by it have a real chance to regaining half their life.

Half their life? Yes, indeed. As the book describes, and its suffers attest, it feels like they are lost, or absent, for about half their life. The winter half.

The book presents the history of research and discovery, the treatment options available, and some self-assessments as to the severity of seasonal depression a person is experiencing. I especially appreciated the chapter outlining how to assess the seasonal ‘swing’ of children and adolescents: is it normal, is it the ‘winter blues, or is it SAD?

The book is readable in style, without being overly academic or tough. It really gave me a lot of hope to read it, both for myself (more on the ‘winter blues’) side, and several loved ones that I know suffer from the more serious form, SAD. Rosenthal’s book simultaneously helps those who suffer from seasonal depression not to blame themselves, as they cannot control how many hours the sun shines in their neck of the woods, while empowering them to know that there are reasonable and reliable steps that they CAN take to alleviate or even totally remit their suffering.

Well-done, and highly recommended.