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Escaping the winter blues

In winter, as temperatures begin to fall, many people also feel their mood sinking. The combination of darkness, cold, and never-ending grey oppresses the spirit. Here you can find out all about winter depression and how to avoid falling into a pit of depression.

Are you feeling tried even though you had a good night’s sleep? Do you lack energy and drive even though you are well rested? Maybe you don’t feel like social contact even though you enjoy company? Or perhaps you withdraw from life and only leave your home when you have to?

All these are symptoms of the winter blues and are caused by a lack of daylight. The medical explanation is that because of the lack of daylight the body produces less serotonin (the “happiness” hormone) and more melatonin (the “sleep” hormone). This change in the metabolism can knock the body out of kilter.

Countering the winter blues
You can re-establish a healthy balance by spending more time out of doors, even in bad weather. Even the cloudiest day has more light than a brightly lit interior. Exercise will also give your metabolism a boost, and social contact will help you forget the winter blues. So, the best recipe is to go out and meet up with your friends, which should also lift your mood.

Treating winter depression
If winter blues symptoms are unusually strong and persistent, they are often referred to as winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you have these symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

Winter depression is usually treated with light therapy in which the person affected sits for about half an hour per day in front of a special therapy lamp (many times stronger than a normal lamp). This provides them with the light they need. St. John's wort extract is also frequently used against winter depression. If light therapy and St. John's wort extract are ineffective, other anti-depressants may be prescribed.

If you have any further questions about your health, you can ask the doctors and medical staff at the sante24 health advice helpline for expert advice – free of charge, 24 hours a day. On request, sante24 can also make a doctor’s appointment for you. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86