One in three Germans suffers from the winter blues. Short, cold and dreary days cause their mood barometer to drop towards zero. Blame for the misery: the few hours of sunlight, i.e. the pronounced lack of light. This causes the body to produce more of the mood-lowering sleep hormone melatonin, but far less of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is the medical term. This manifests itself similarly to the "classic" melancholy – namely through a lack of drive and energy, loss of interest, dejection and anxiety. Unusual for depression are the pronounced need for sleep and an increased appetite, especially for sweet and carbohydrate-rich foods.
Run away from the low mood
When the days outside get uncomfortable, it's coziest indoors. But instead of getting bogged down, experts advise taking action right now. Because even a cloudy sky lets light through and thus has a mood-lifting effect. "If you can, schedule a short half-hour walk or jog every noon," recommends Dr. Thorsten Bracher, Chief Physician of the Schlossparkklinik Dirmstein. The fact that plenty of exercise in the fresh air strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of catching a cold is another good reason to enjoy the outdoors.
If job and family do not allow regular excursions outdoors, light therapy can be an alternative. The patients sit thereby daily a half hour relaxed before a lamp with up to 10.000 Lux. These are available from around 80 euros. Artificial light (without harmful UV content) promotes the release of the happiness hormone serotonin. "The majority of patients feel an improvement in their symptoms after two to three weeks of treatment with the "light shower," reports Dr. Bracher.
Create a bright friendly atmosphere
So that you don't fall into a gloom in the office or living room, good lighting and mood conditions should be provided here as well. "So let in as much sunlight as possible and provide a pleasant, friendly atmosphere," advises the specialist in psychosomatic medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy. Cozy, social gatherings with family or acquaintances are ideal leisure activities with a high feel-good factor. "A functioning social network with good friends as well as varied hobbies counteract depression," says Dr. Bracher. And also sufficient relaxation steers against a wintry mood depression. Whether it's a wellness bath, a gourmet meal or autogenic training – it's important to have feel-good moments according to individual moods and preferences.
St. John's wort can help with mild moods. This plant was already appreciated by the healers of past centuries for its brightening effect. But before taking please ask the doctor or pharmacist, because in combination with other drugs side effects are possible. If the low mood lasts more than three weeks, the family doctor should be visited. This can assess whether psychological help is needed. Therapeutic treatment often takes months. But it's worth it: "The earlier treatment begins, the faster and more effectively the symptoms can usually be remedied," says Dr. Bracher. It comes again to more joy of life and psychological stability. However, repetitions of depressive phases cannot be ruled out.
Preventive programs with feeling
If there is a particular risk of depression, for example due to high performance orientation and constant stress, or if depression has already been diagnosed, professional preventive programs are recommended. In trend: so-called mindfulness trainings. "These are a useful supplement to psychotherapy and antidepressants, and depending on the severity sometimes also an alternative," emphasizes Juliane Stern, therapist in charge at Schlossparkklinik Dirmstein. "This is not primarily about feeling better, but first of all about better perceiving and understanding one's own feelings and thoughts."
More on the topic
Still more Tipps read you in the November expenditure of MEIN TAG®, the magazine exclusively from your good day pharmacy. If necessary, the pharmacy finder will guide you to the right address in your area. Get your copy now – paid for by your pharmacy. The experts there will of course be happy to advise you if you have any questions on the subject. According to a new scientific study, rosemary is said to improve depressive moods and reduce anxiety.