This is my least favorite day of the year (except maybe my birthday but that's another story). The coming of the winter solstice, the shortest day, fills me with dread. It's even worse if it's raining on that day, which it currently is where I live.
I've experienced this dread since adolescence but I learned its name – Seasonal Affective Disorder — just a few years ago when I was living in London. I hadn't realized that London was so much further north than where I live. That means that in winter, the days are even shorter.
Most mornings, I would leave for work in the dark. If I didn't get out for lunch, I would return home in the dark as well. That meant days without actually experiencing sunlight. I felt bereft for reasons I couldn't explain.
Then I found the explanation: Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is often identified by the acronym SAD. Really – you can't make this stuff up.
Women are more at risk than men and the symptoms begin to show as the days get shorter in late autumn and early winter. These include irritability, anxiety, a craving for carbs, weight gain (probably from the carbs) and daytime sleepiness.
Some of these are also symptoms of depression so it's important to talk to your doctor; don't self-diagnose.
Treatment for SAD often includes light therapy, which I have found to be quite effective. You sit in front of a special light box for a prescribed amount of time, usually in the morning. Antidepressants are also used sometimes, usually in conjunction with talk therapy.
I have found that regular exercise helps as well, especially if it's done in the morning daylight.
Just knowing the name of my problem was cathartic. I've also learned to look at the winter solstice in another perspective. From this point on, the days get longer and spring is just a few months away.