Does darkness get you depressed?

Publisert: 28.11.2019
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Do you feel relaxed, do you want to crawl under the blankets and have an increased appetite for sweets? This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. You may suffer from winter depression.

When autumn comes, Annika starts to feel a little down. She needs more coffee to wake up in the morning and it becomes more difficult to keep the healthy diet she set up for herself. Only then did she begin to doubt what could be wrong with her or in her life. She only wanted to lie down and sleep.

- Winter depression is the result of the days getting shorter and the light less strong. The light shortage contributes to our experience of life as more difficult, says Professor of Clinical Psychology Tore Stiles.

Disrupts sleep rhythm

These symptoms may vary in degree and not everyone experiences getting all the symptoms.

One tell-tale sign is that one feels exhausted and sleeps a lot, without waking up rested the next morning. Over time, this can end up disrupting the rhythm of the sleep and the development of insomnia. Many also experience mild or severe depression.

Gender and age appear to explain the prevalence of winter depression. It is women and young people who are most at risk.

Are you wondering if you are affected by winter depression?

Here are 7 signs you should be aware of:

1. Increased need for sleep

It is dark when you get up in the morning and dark when you go home from work.

You feel that you are very tired and that you do not get enough sleep, even if you sleep more than usual.

2. Lack of energy

In addition to the fatigue, you never feel completely refreshed. This makes you weary, and you run out of energy. It is more difficult to motivate yourself for training and do things that you would otherwise find straightforward to engage in.

3. Increased appetite, especially sweets

You have increased appetite and especially crave sweets and unhealthy foods with lots of fat, sugar and salt. As a result, you often gain unwanted weight.

4. Less need to be social

You no longer want to go out with friends. You prefer to stay home and avoid social activities.

5. Bad mood

You feel depressed and things are experienced more hopelessly than before. Some also feel that one is sadder and that it is easy to break out into tears. Negative thoughts about things that need to be done, people around you or yourself are also common.

6. Reduced sex drive

One has less desire for sex than before and the partner's search for intimacy can be perceived as too much or demanding.

7. Poor conscience

As a result of the above-mentioned symptoms, many people get a bad conscience for not doing enough. Having to say ‘no’ all the time because you do not have the energy can be perceived as not a good reason and you can encounter little understanding from others.

When Annika realized she was depressed in winter, she was relieved, it wasn't her fault. Instead of feeling helpless, she invested in a daylight lamp and went on vacation to southern regions in the late fall. She learned to recognize the symptoms and has become less strict with herself. “I learned to accept it,” she says, and in the worst of times she has sought help. “It's nice to be able to talk to someone about what I was experiencing. Knowing that someone is follows up on me and how I’m feeling has also made me better at keeping to my workout routines, which helps a lot”.

- Using light therapy and seeking out sunnier and warmer coasts can help. Light therapy can help stabilize the circadian rhythm and give a feeling of having more energy, says Professor Stiles.

Furthermore, stress management can help, as stress hormones are able to negatively affect the circadian rhythm. Take better care of yourself with good eating habits, exercise and time to relax. Furthermore, it is important to remember that everyone is individual and that what is right for another does not have to be right for you, he continues.

Whether you are struggling with milder or severe symptoms of winter depression, we at Cope are here for you. We can help you by having someone for you to talk to. We can give some good tips and advice tailored just for you. Together we are stronger in the face of winter.