Winter depression: what really helps against the autumn blues

Winter depression: what really helps against the autumn blues

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Lots of daylight and exercise help against the autumn blues

Many people develop a seasonal depression (SAD) in the dark season, which is also known as winter depression or as winter or autumn blues. In order to prevent and tackle it, you should exercise enough, eat a healthy diet and soak up as much daylight as possible.

Gloomy weather and cold, rainy autumn afternoons: the dark season can have a strong impact on the mind. Laypeople like to speak of autumn or winter blues. Experts describe the falling mood in autumn as "seasonal depression", abbreviated SAD, explains the Bremen Consumer Center in a message. Consumer advocates explain how an SAD is recognized, how it differs from a real depression, what the causes are and what can be done about it.

Dejected and driveless

As the name suggests, the autumn blues begin in autumn and continue into the spring months. Affected people usually feel depressed, lacking energy and lack of drive and often drive quickly out of the skin. Often there are also atypical symptoms such as longer sleep and increased cravings for sweets. In contrast, with "real" depression, there is more loss of appetite, weight loss and insufficient sleep.

Lack of light in the dark season

According to the consumer advice center, the lack of light between November and February is primarily responsible for the development of an SAD. On the shorter days, less natural daylight hits the retina. This affects the pineal gland in the brain, which is connected to the optic nerve. It then releases more melatonin (sleep hormone), which makes us tired and lacking in energy; our mood sinks. Scientists also believe that the brain messenger serotonin is also involved in winter depression. Among other things, he is responsible for the regulation of emotions and is often referred to as the “happiness hormone”.

To become active

One should not simply indulge in the autumn blues and crawl under the covers, but actively do something about them. A good strategy against SAD is to take in as much daylight as possible, this has a positive effect on the mood. This has to do with the formation of certain hormones: under the influence of sunlight, the human body produces more endorphins and increasingly releases the mood-enhancing messenger serotonin.

Even when the sky is cloudy and with an umbrella and even when it is raining, you get daylight. But if you don't get enough sunlight outside, you can also try light therapy. Because: "Many studies indicate that light therapy is particularly effective for seasonal depression," explains the German Depression Aid Foundation on its website. It is also important to exercise enough. Exercise is an effective antidepressant. No matter if you go for a walk, jog or ride a bike: Movement and light bring a special mood in the morning.

Proper nutrition lifts the mood

According to consumer advocates, people who tend to be depressed in the dark months eat significantly more sweet, carbohydrate-rich food during this time. If you don't want to struggle with too much "winter bacon" in the course of the dark months, you should therefore move in the fresh air. Fresh vegetables such as kale and the like, legumes, bananas, dates or figs as well as nuts and fish are suitable foods against the lack of winter driving. According to the consumer advice center, research has shown that a balanced diet with whole grains, vegetables and fruits can lift your spirits. On the other hand, a lot of animal protein slows down the formation of serotonin by eating too much cheese, milk and meat.

Dietary supplements are not recommended

As consumer advocates write, food supplements have been increasingly promoted in recent years. Among other things, the manufacturers advertise that their products can help with listlessness and listlessness, with the need for more sleep or sleep disorders, but also with loss of appetite and weight loss.

The preparations are often advertised as purely vegetable, appear natural and harmless at first glance. In reality, it is precisely those products that are frequently sold on the Internet that can contain substances that are hazardous to health, some of which are highly pharmacologically active. Although food supplements are legally classified as foods, they differ from natural foods. They contain nutrients in a concentrated, isolated form, which is why overdoses are more likely. If you take medication and want to use food supplements, you should definitely talk to your doctor or pharmacist to avoid interactions. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Video: the Seasonal Affective Disorder episode. Beaumont HouseCall Podcast (August 2022).