Forecast: COLD!

  By Lesley Hughes
  
  lhughes@starhq.com

  Hello Old Man Winter. Goodbye warm weather.
  Today marks the first official day of winter. For those of you suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, there is some good news; it's all down hill from here. Since today is the shortest day of the year, every day to come will fortunately have one minute more of sunlight.
  Though today marks the first day of winter, the area received a warning of what to expect of winter weather over the weekend. On Monday morning as the daring trekked out of their houses, spots of black ice or snow-covered roads resulted in many accidents across Carter County. Vehicles slid off icy roads only for drivers to be told that a wrecker couldn't pull their vehicle out until later in the day when the roads were less treacherous.
  Carter County Highway Department employees worked hard to keep roads clear, but the combination of freezing temperatures and sticky snow left crews working through the night and day.
  The National Weather Service in Morristown predicts dangerous wind chills for early this morning and a cold front that will approach the area late Wednesday and early Thursday. "The system may bring some moderate rainfall to the area. After the frontal passage, light snow and flurries are possible. Below normal temperatures are expected into the weekend," the NWS reported.
  The normal high temperature for the first day of winter in this area is 46 degrees while the low is 26 degrees.
  For some, winter time not only spurs dread of snow and salty roads, but also the "winter blues," also referred to as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The disorder most often begins in the fall or winter and then subsides in the spring. It sometimes is called the "winter blues" because most people with Seasonal Affective Disorder have an episode of depression during the winter months.
  Symptoms include typical signs of depression, but usually only last during winter. Other symptoms may include trouble getting out of bed in the morning, bouts of fatigue during the day, or feeling compelled to overeat without feeling depressed.
  These symptoms can be treated with various therapies, including exposure to bright light generated by a special light box that's much brighter than a normal lamp. It's proven to work, but not for everyone.
  Researchers claim the cause of SAD is lack of light during the winter months. But a new explanation for Seasonal Affective Disorder is that it may stem from too much melatonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. When the brain's pineal gland starts pumping out melatonin, we get sleepy. During winter, animals secrete melatonin for longer periods than they do at other times of the year. Light therapy still works if melatonin is the main culprit, because light controls melatonin levels.
  Light boxes, lamps, and lighting fixtures can be found at www.fullsprectrumshop.com or www.sunbox.com.