Winter is Coming

The meaning of the Game of Thrones phrase “Winter is coming” has a few layers. First, and most literally, it means exactly what it says — winter is coming. The land of Westeros has very odd seasonal structures where summer and winter can last for long periods of time without anyone knowing when they will switch.
Second, it is the motto of House Stark, and refers to their vigilance. It is an expression that means one should always be prepared. As rulers of the North, they must always be ready for anything that could happen — and eventually, something will. Thus, winter is coming.
Thirdly and most importantly for this article we discover that, George R. R. Martin, creator of the book series on which the show is based, explains that there is also deeper metaphorical meaning generally expressing the sentiment that dark periods occur in life.  Even if things are currently going well in your world (“summer”), this won’t last forever. Typically as Art imitates life we can see that there will eventually come a dark period, a coldness, when events turn against us (“winter”). This metaphorical interpretation reflects the underlying message of the entire show, as nobody is ever safe or comfortable for too long.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Recognising and treating seasonal depression and the winter blue
The shorter days and colder weather of winter can make anyone feel down, especially if you live a long way from the equator. The reduced light, warmth, and colour of winter can leave you feeling melancholy, irritable, or tired. But if these feelings recur each year, make it tough to function during the winter months, and then subside in spring or early summer, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal depression can affect your health, your relationships, and your everyday activities. But no matter how hopeless you feel, there are things you can do to keep your mood and life stable throughout the year.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can occur at the same time each year, usually in winter. Otherwise known as seasonal depression, SAD can affect your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels, taking a toll on all aspects of your life from your relationships and social life to work, school, and your sense of self-worth. You may feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. While a less common form of the disorder causes depression during the summer months, SAD usually begins in autumn or winter when the days become shorter and remains until the brighter days of spring or early summer.

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

While the exact causes of seasonal affective disorder are unclear, most theories attribute the disorder to the reduction of daylight hours in winter. The shorter days and reduced exposure to sunlight that occurs in winter are thought to affect the body by disrupting:

  • Circadian rhythms. Your body’s internal clock or sleep-wake cycle responds to changes between light and dark to regulate your sleep, mood, and appetite. The longer nights and shorter days of winter can disrupt your internal clock—leaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times.
  • Production of melatonin. When it’s dark, your brain produces the hormone melatonin to help you sleep and then sunlight during the day triggers the brain to stop melatonin production so you feel awake and alert. During the short days and long nights of winter, however, your body may produce too much melatonin, leaving you feeling drowsy and low on energy.
  • Production of serotonin. The reduced sunlight of winter can lower your body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. A deficit may lead to depression and adversely affect your sleep, appetite, memory, and sexual desire.
    Treatment for seasonal affective disorder

While your doctor may also suggest treatment such as medication or psychotherapy we would like to point out the benefits of exposure to relatively high concentrations of negative ions that can only be produced by high density negative ion generators. There have been well documented studies over decades and many research papers published in respected journals have concluded that negative ions can have a deep beneficial effect on both the mind and body.

Negative Ion Research

Probably the first official pioneer into the study of ions was Dr Clarence Hansell, an American research engineer who investigated the biological effects of ionised air in 1932 when he noticed that the mood of one of his colleagues changed in response to the ions being generated by their equipment. He discovered that his colleague was ebullient when the machine produced negative ions and morose when it produced positive ions.
In a more recent extension of Dr Hansell’s work, a controlled study on SAD, reported in the Archives Of General Psychiatry in October 1998, found negatively charged fresh air to be an effective treatment and prevention for SAD. Scientists believe this is because negative ions affect the serotonin levels in the brain, less dramatically (and synthetically) than a prescription anti-depressant.
It has also been shown that in addition to possibly having a profound effect on mood and energy, negative ions may have a strong impact on cognitive functioning. In 1965, in the journal “Psychophysiology”, a study, “Behavioural Effects of Ionised Air on Rats”, was published. In this study, the effects of negatively ionised air on the mental functioning of rats was tested. Researchers Duffee and Koontz reported on page 358 of the journal: “the water-maze performance improved by 350%,” showing a dramatic improvement in cognitive functioning.
The most recent and exciting study was published in the February, 1995 issue of “Journal of Alternative and Comparative Medicine”, a journal of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre. The results of this study were also reported on CBS News with Connie Chung.
Researchers Dr. Michael Terman (head of Columbia’s Winter depression department) and Dr. Jiuan Su Terman conducted a study of the impact of negative ion therapy on people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)–an illness that is often symptomatically indistinguishable from “all-year” depression; researchers believe that the biology of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is very similar to that of “all-year” depression, hence, the same antidepressant drugs (such as Prozac) are used to treat both.
The study was conducted in double blind fashion and divided clinically depressed subjects into two groups.
The subjects in the first group were treated for 30 minutes a day for 20 days with a low density ion generator that produced only 10,000 ions/cubic centimetre (the control group). The subjects in the second group were treated for 30 minutes a day for 20 days with a high density ion generator that produced 2,700,000 ions/cubic centimetre (the experimental group).
The remission or “cure” criterion used was a 50% or greater reduction in symptom frequency and severity using the SAD version of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. The results of this study shocked the medical community: While a low density negative ion generator provided little benefit, a high density negative ion generator gave relief from depression comparable to that given by Prozac and other antidepressants, without drug side effects.

Negative Ion Generators

Negative Ionisers have been available since research began in the 1930’s and these devices have been used throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Orient and the former Soviet Union in medical and general applications. Consumer devices that utilise negative ion-generating technology have been shown to eliminate airborne pollutants, dust, cigarette smoke, pet dander, pollen, mould spores, viruses, and bacteria from the air.

What is an Air Ioniser?

An air ioniser, also known as a negative ion generator is a useful item to have in the house as they simultaneously purify and remove allergens and dust particles from the air. In addition, these devices continually refresh the air, neutralise odours and improve air quality with air filter technology.

How do Air Ionisers Work?

Particles, known as ions, attach to oxygen in the air to create a negative charge. Once it becomes a negative ion, the molecule attaches itself to pollen, dander, dust and odour to create a cluster. Air ionisers are capable of drawing these clusters into an air filter, which can be easily cleaned or replaced as required.

Negative Ion Therapeutic Medical Devices

Not all negative ions generators are the same
Some Ionisers have been specifically designed for therapeutic purposes and are sometimes referred to as Negative Ion Therapeutic Medical Devices.
Ensure that in your research you ask if the devices you are considering are registered medical device such as the Elanra range of devices that are included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (TGA) are these Australian designed and manufactured Negative Ion Medical Devices.

Conclusion

OK, Winter may be coming but we needn’t feel the oppressive effects that it may bring anymore. In fact, with negative ion therapeutic medical devices we can feel absolutely positive about the coming winter months, comforted that we can now be ready for anything that could happen.