Michelle Chalfant | The Adult Chair | 307 – Seasonal Affective Disorder with Dr. Norman Rosenthal
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307 – Seasonal Affective Disorder with Dr. Norman Rosenthal

There’s a funny meme I see floating around the internet that says, “I’m sorry for the things I said when it was winter.”


It’s a joke, but as always, there’s truth in humor – and the reality is that winter REALLY does affect our mood (and how we react to others) at a scientific level.


This is due to something called “seasonal affective disorder,” or SAD, and it has everything to do with the amount of sunlight we’re getting and how it affects our brains. It can even show up as major depression. And in today’s episode, I’m interviewing the scientist who discovered this phenomenon himself, Dr. Norman Rosenthal.


Dr. Rosenthal is a fascinating man who loves everything from science to poetry and how people can experience greater well-being. He is passionate about, quite literally, bringing more light to this world, and he shares the creative and scientific process of how he and his colleagues discovered SAD, how they tested light therapy for SAD, who SAD affects the most and some steps we can all take to make it through the winter.


Listen to discover:


  • His story of discovering seasonal affective disorder
  • What SAD actually is and how it works
  • The genetic and hormonal roots of SAD 
  • The difference between the winter blues and SAD
  • The benefits of light therapy
  • Surprising healing tools like poetry and Botox
  • Dr. Rosenthal’s latest work with poetry for healing


As we spring forward and April is around the corner, I’m beginning to feel a sense of hope and reawakening, but we’re not out of the woods yet. SAD is still affecting our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, in places that get a lot of rain like Seattle and England and any of us who don’t spend enough time getting out in the light. So, here’s your reason to get up from your desk and take a walk around the block on the next sunny day – maybe with a book of poetry in hand.

“Where previously you’d only seen light as a vehicle for vision, now you see it as a vehicle for well-being.”  – Dr. Norman Rosenthal


“It’s genetic, it’s hormonal and it’s environmental.” – Dr. Norman Rosenthal


“SAD is actually a form of major depression.” – Dr. Norman Rosenthal


“I’m a great believer in training yourself to realize when you’re getting enough light.” – Dr. Norman Rosenthal


“I don’t think a lot of people understand that this is what happens to so many of us [in the winter months].” – Michelle Chalfant


“When you really sit and listen or when you’re reading [poetry], it just speaks to our soul.”  – Michelle Chalfant


“As a human, we get to experience everything from love to fear and everything in between. They’re rich, beautiful emotions – every single one of them.” – Michelle Chalfant






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Instagram: @michelle.chalfant

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