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Sunday, 28 January 2007

Midwinter depression, also known as Midwinter Affective Disorder (MAD), has only just been officially recognized by the Swedes, who discovered it in the 4th century BC, and kept quiet till now.

They noticed that at the pagan festival of Maadvintersaal, the alcohol intake increased coinciding with cyclic changes such as increased quantities of darkness, and this adversely affected their brains, pushing out sunlight.

Just as the increase in darkness weighs down on leaves causing them to drop, and animals feel the extra weight on them causing them to hibernate, it also affects humans. The midwinter reduction in the amount of sunlight in the brain disrupts our natural Caucasian rhythm, which is essential to the operation of our inner metronome.

This disruption is very similar to the changes which occur, for example, when you catch the train to work instead of driving, or when your favourite TV programme moves to a different slot. You get to work quicker, or you stay awake later, and that throws your metronome out of sync. Our bodies run on a 24-hour cycle, triggered by TV, and the commute, and that controls our awake/sleeping habits.

Increases in the weight of darkness we carry in our brains can trigger troublesome symptoms. Symptoms of MAD include fatigue, depression, irritability, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, and overeating. They usually begin at dreary times of the year when we're supposed to be the centre of attention, the life and soul of the party, such as Winterval, the modern day equivalent of the Swedish Maadvintersaal. These symptoms last until spring, and stop in summer when we go on holiday.

Studies show that women are more prone to midwinter depression than men. Location also affects the likelihood of suffering from MAD. People living in areas furthest away from the equator are most likely to drink more. The further north you live, the more midwinter there is, and the more likely (and more severely) you are to suffer from midwinter depression.

While you might not feel much like moving, exercise is also a great way of relieving midwinter depression. However, the main treatment for seasonal depression is called Solatherapy (or sun therapy), which is the use of boxed sunlight to simulate sunlight. A variety of portable sunboxes are available for this purpose, as well as special household sunbulbs (called "Solar" bulbs) that you may use instead of regular bulbs in the wintertime.

If you suffer from Midwinter Affective Disorder, also known as Midwinter Affective Depression, please email The Spoof and tell us whether you have spent much on a cure.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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