Especially on holidays such as Christmas and New Year's Eve many people are not only happy, but also sad. Of course, this is true above all, but not just single, lonely people. Depressed mood, listlessness, withdrawal, fatigue, imbalance and a depressed overall mood can be symptoms of Seasonal Dependent Depression (SAD). The good news: You can do something about such a winter depression - and if necessary, effective treatment methods are available.
The main cause of seasonal depression is lack of light
Because under the influence of light, the body increasingly produces "happy hormones" (endorphins). If there is enough light, the mood-brightening neurotransmitter serotonin is also increasingly released. A lack of serotonin plays an important role in the onset of depression. In contrast, the messenger melatonin is increasingly produced in dark winter months, which makes rather tired and tired, because he is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. Actually, it is "natural" that the body in the winter on "low-flame" switches, but our current lifestyle hardly allows such periods of rest.
On the other hand, researchers have also found in some animals increased anxiety and depression in light deficiency. Probably the one who can hibernate? Women are four times more likely to experience seasonal depression than men. But for both: It can get so far that they do not really want to get up and have no more strength for normal everyday activities. There are many tips for preventing and controlling winter depression:
Physical activity outdoors
It is enormously helpful to be outdoors even on cloudy and rainy days from the beginning of autumn to the spring months during the day. Even on these gray days, natural daylight is three to four times stronger than indoor lighting. Therefore, it is advisable to move outdoors regularly, for example, by cycling or walking.
Sport enhances mental well-being through the release of various endogenous happiness hormones and mood enhancers. Especially in the dark season, corresponding sports activities in the form of jogging, walking, cycling or cross-country skiing can cause little miracles.
For those who have the opportunity, stays in southern countries can prevent the onset of winter depression. In fact, the SAD is very common in Alaska, for example, but hardly in the Mediterranean.
A balanced diet also has a positive effect on the mood. Nuts are eaten during the Christmas season, and in many families Lentils are lucky for New Year's Eve. Such traditions have quite a health sense: The important magnesium is included in bananas, lentils, nuts and dried fruit, among other things. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta and potatoes contain the mood-enhancing serotonin. Also especially dark chocolate is recommended. Sweets generally contain mood-enhancing substances; for other well-known health reasons, however, they should be enjoyed in moderation.
Against the loneliness
Although the SAD can meet anyone. But lonely people are especially at risk of getting into depression on festive days - to which others celebrate happily. Varied activities and social contact prevent, guaranteed! These include neighborhood initiatives, inviting acquaintances and relatives to their homes, clubs, theater or museum visits, attending lectures or traveling. It is important, of course, in good time, so before holidays, to seek contacts, just to give rise to loneliness as little as possible.
All other measures listed here apply at least to the same extent. An example: If someone has to spend the Christmas holidays alone, he should act according to the motto: "Good food makes good mood".
The neglect of social contacts can also be a symptom of depression - this "vicious circle" must be broken. And it is true that in old age the susceptibility to depression increases. But older people in particular can do something by following such tips as far as they can.
In the case of light therapy suitable for mild to moderate winter depression, the person concerned sits for a maximum of one hour each day before sunrise and after sunset in front of a light device with approximately 2, 500 lux (international unit for illuminance) for two weeks. With stronger light walls, the daily time can be shortened accordingly. The light therapy of specialized doctors and clinics extends the illumination time of the day.
If necessary, modern medicines
For moderate to severe depression, drug treatment is required. Contrary to rumors and occasional reports, modern antidepressants are very effective and tolerable. With such by the doctor on a case by case matched funds can also prevent a relapse. Also to be considered are psychotherapeutic treatment procedures.
Well meant is not always good
Advice can also kill you. "Pull yourself together" is just as unhelpful as "winter blues" as it is with all other forms of depression. Because it applies: Depression is to be taken seriously - but they are also treatable!