Remember the adage: Spring forward, Fall back.
This of course means that your days towards winter will be getting darker now, much darker. The further north, the more dramatic.
More after the jump
For the dwellers of the far north in particular, winter can mean the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But you don't need to live in an igloo to be affected by diminishing sunlight; SAD affects many through Europe and the Northern continental US, Alaska and Canada.
Seasonal mood variations are believed to be related mostly to daylight, not temperature. For this reason, SAD is prevalent even in mid-latitude places with mild winters, such as Seattle. Prolonged periods of overcast weather can also exacerbate SAD. Normal "winter blues" can usually be dampened or extinguished by exercise and increased outdoor activity, particularly on sunny days, resulting in increased solar exposure. SAD, however, is a more serious disorder, sometimes triggering dysthymia or clinical depression. It may require hospitalization.
Various etiologies have been suggested.1 One possibility is that SAD is related to a lack of serotonin and that exposure to full-spectrum artificial light may improve the condition by stimulating serotonin production although this has been disputed.2,3 Another theory is that melatonin produced in the pineal gland is the primary cause.4,5 There are direct connections between the retina and the pineal gland however some studies show that melatonin levels do not appear to differ between those with and without SAD. Light therapy appears to be effective in treating SAD, but the exact mechanism of the effect is still unknown.
Full-spectrum bulbs and "sunlight lamps" can be purchased as speciality lighting products for those suffering from SAD. The most validated of the light therapies is the use of a bright light box for 30-60 minutes daily in the mornings. These light boxes are many times more bright than regular indoor lighting.6
While SSRIs are popular medical solution for the winter blues, if you think filling yourself with potentially dangerous drugs is not the solution for you, then consider light therapy. Light boxes and full spectrum light bulbs seem to help many people who dread the SAD days of winter.
Whatever you do, the best advice that I have heard for the blues is to get out. Go for walks, hook up with friends, take up winter sports. Find beauty in winter landscapes. Socialize, join a club, eat fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines (Omega-3 is supposedly good for mood disorders). Enjoy the festivals of light that occur in the darkest nights of winter: Christmas, Hanukkah and Three Kings' day to name a few. And remember, at the Winter solstice the worst will be over: the days start getting longer and days of sunshine and light will be approaching rapidly with the New Year and Spring.
PS This is the next to last year that DST will end on the same date in both the US and Europe. Starting in 2007 the US will extend DST by 4 weeks, adding 3 weeks in Spring and one in the Fall.
Clocks [in 2007 and beyond] will be set ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the current first Sunday of April. Clocks will be set back one hour on the first Sunday in November, rather than the last Sunday of October.