Autumn and winter depression

13. December 2019

How you can escape the autumn blues!

Not everyone loves the cold and the dark, wet time of the year. Too little light, temperatures dropping, and our mood tumbles too. Yes, autumn blues really do exist. The dark autumn months can seriously wear you down. Mood swings are not a symptom of depression, though, and may have completely normal causes. Importantly, autumn blues can lead to depression, but they should not be equated with depression.

When our mood drops in autumn

The year is drawing to a close and more than a few of us have a tendency to get thinking. What things could you have done better, what did you miss out on, how is your love life looking, do you still like your job, have you taken enough care of your friends? Feelings like loneliness, abandonment and forlornness also arise more frequently at this time of year.

Yes, these kind of things cross our minds in the darker months. You shouldn’t focus solely on negative thoughts, though – people who think too negatively can’t achieve anything positive, and will expect even less. It’s best to not allow gloomy thoughts to even emerge. But how can you escape from this hole at the end of the year?

Autumn blues have a lot to do with light. The diagnosis for autumn blues is called season affective disorder, or SAD for short. According to the consumer association Verbraucherzentrale, the principal factor responsible for SAD is the lack of light in the period from November to February, so you should stock up on as much daylight as possible. The sun still shines enough even in autumn and winter, so it’s recommendable to regularly go for a walk in daylight. People who don’t get enough sunlight can fall back on light therapy. ‘Many studies indicate that light therapy is particularly effective against seasonal depressions’, as the German Foundation for Depression Relief explains on its website.

Light therapy can help

Light therapy can achieve great success against winter depression – for this, a light therapy lamp ought to have a light intensity of at least 2500 lux. From a biological point of view this is related to increased production of the sleep hormone melatonin, something triggered by lack of light. At the same time, the distribution of mood-lifting messenger material, the happiness hormone serotonin, decreases. There is some good news, though: 90 percent of complaints of autumn and winter depression go away on their own.

The right nutrition helps your mood in autumn and winter

Vitamins against depressions and autumn and winter blues. The B vitamins are particularly important for brain function, as a lack of vitamin B6 and depressive moods have often been found to be linked. Vitamin B6 can be found in vegetables, particularly in carrots and potatoes, in whole grain, nuts, pulses, fish and meat. A lack of vitamin B6 could cause chronic exhaustion, poor performance, tiredness and difficulty concentrating. According to the Verbraucherzentrale, studies have shown that kale, bananas, dates, figs and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as wholegrain products can lift your mood. There’s also nothing wrong with taking vitamin D as a nutritional supplement during the winter months – otherwise we soak this vitamin up from sun rays through our skin in the summer months.

So don’t be in the doldrums, beat those autumn and winter blues

If you want to feel the summer in your soul in those dark winter months as well, you should try to get lots of variety. Movement is a very effective antidepressant. All kinds of sport lift our spirits, ideally ones with fresh air. Jogging, cycling and going for a walk, especially in the morning, can improve our mood, and fresh air also helps fight depressive moods. A real mood-maker is music. Music can both relax and invigorate at the same time, so your favourite music can quickly drive away those winter blues and will give your mood a boost without a doubt.

People that suffer from mood swings shouldn’t spend too much time on their own. Sitting on the sofa alone certainly won’t help escape the misery. Happiness comes from social contact. In the cold part of the year you should meet friends and colleagues and visit relatives more often. Shared experiences ensure high spirits, bring positive thoughts, and happiness hormones stop depressions and bad moods even coming about.

Happiness through togetherness

Togetherness also brings strength, energy and life satisfaction. You don’t have to be in a group to escape those autumn and winter blues. Clock off earlier and spend some more time with your partner. Even in the darker months of the year you can have great conversations with a glass of wine, and that’s sure to make you happier.

You shouldn’t be too casual about autumn blues, though. You should consult your GP at the latest 14 days after a depressive mood first starts – depressions do not go away without treatment. Only your doctor can judge whether psychological help is necessary. P.S. This article is not a substitute for a visit to the doctor, as it only provides general tips, not treatment recommendations.