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Vinterdepression Posted by on Oct 29, 2008 in Culture, Vocabulary

Returning to Sweden after we changed to winter time last weekend was a bit harsh. Suddenly it gets dark at 4PM here. And it will only get worse. That’s one of the joys of living in the North. I like winter, don’t get me wrong, it’s the darkness that kills me.

So, to make sure that I stay alive and keep blogging, I went in search of my favorite full-spectrum light bulbs today. And wouldn’t you know it, I was late – apparently the whole town had the same idea. Elkedjan was all sold out. They only had one “natural sunlight” light bulb left and told me to come back next week when a new shipment arrives.

This is my yearly ritual – replacing all normal light bulbs with those bluish “natural sunlight” ones and plugging in massive greenhouse-style lamps. And leaving them all on until springtime. Yes, I know I said that I’m big on saving energy and all that, but I make up for my ginormous winter electricity consumption during summers when I don’t turn on any lights at all. So it all evens out, I hope, and my carbon footprint should stay more or less the same.

This is not just an Anna quirk, or a goofy habit with no scientific background. Seasonal affective disorder is a serious thing. And I’d never known just how serious until I moved to Norrland. My first winter was dreadful. So dreadful in fact, that I ended up popping anti-depressants like Pez candy. I gained a ton of weight, had to go on medical leave and eventually ended up hospitalized. Winter in Norrland – 1: Anna – 0. It wasn’t pleasant. Fortunately, I don’t remember much of it now.

The following year I was much better prepared. I read up on SAD (vinterdepression eller årstidsbunden depression) and was ready. I turned my living room into a greenhouse and got serious about light therapy (ljusterapi). And just to make sure I got adequate sun exposure, I also went to Gran Canaria in December. Yes, I know it’s a cheesy cliché, but it did help.

These days I feel like a veteran of northern winters. I know the drill now – over the years I’ve learned what works for me and perfected it to fit my needs. Winter doesn’t bother me anymore – it’s nothing but a few annoying pages in my wall calendar and a brilliant excuse to go somewhere on vacation.

But first things first, I need to replace those light bulbs. And then book a week-long break somewhere warm. This year it needs to be somewhere cheap, too. I’m thinking Cyprus or Egypt. Any suggestions?

Here are some common symptoms of årstidsbunden depression:

  • en melankolisk sinnesstämning,
  • ökat sömnbehov
  • nedsatt social, fysisk och/eller sexuell aktivitet
  • ändrad (vanligtvis ökad) aptit med ändrat ätbeteende (sockerbehov) och viktökning
  • premenstruella spänningar
  • koncentrationssvårigheter
  • eller ofta en kombination av dessa.

And remember, if you feel like you just can’t take it any longer, seek medical attention. It’s been my experience that doctors in Sweden are familiar with those symptoms and treat them seriously.

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Comments:

  1. Jenni Vater:

    Just wanted to say I love your Blog. It has not only helped me with my Swedish but also understand the man in my life who hails from there.

    P.S. It’s a bit dark and dismal in Scotland in winter.

    Tak, Jenni

  2. Curt Landin:

    Hi Anna,

    I didn´t know they had natural sunlight bulbs, but now I´ll head down to Eltjänst and buy some too. I´m afraid this winter will be one of the worst in ages – an economi recession after a miserable summer. Försäkringskassan (well worth a posting or two) will have lots to do.

    Regarding winter hideaways, here´s an oasis in Egypt I got from a friend of mine: http://www.adrereamellal.net/

    Keep smilin´
    Curre

  3. ceci:

    anna, hej, here we have 20 hs sun a day…you scare me!
    i know , when i look at lyckseles vadret every day…mmmmmm, my god! well, those are prices you must pay to change your life ( this sentence i repeat every day) even i hate argentinin s summers, and more rosarinos summers, with lot of humidity…well, but i am sure that you know how to help us next winter if you get the depression…hope not!
    kisses
    ceci

  4. timan:

    the good news is that prevention is better than cure.and eftersom u prepared for winter and that means the blog w’ll be in full bloom ,NO recession. the previous chapter, really made me terrified, cause of THE Wash Post i thought iam reading THE Washington Post.

  5. Anna:

    Hi Curt!
    That resort looks DIVINE! Unfortunately, it also looks expensive! LOL!

    Jenni,
    Scotland you say? Yes, winters there can be quite depressing, too. I hear ya!

    Ceci,
    I still cannot fathom why you’d want to move from sunny Argentina to Lycksele! 😉

    Timan,
    You’re so right! Prevention is always easier and cheaper than curing an illness.

  6. Raul Diaz:

    Hej, Anna, it´s me, Raul from Cordoba Argentina, I enjoy your blog very, very much, I´m new to swidish and this blog help me greatly, I very much appreciate the information I get from you, thank you very much for the great blog and all the extra info.
    Kind Regards Raul Diaz

  7. Andrew Waddington:

    For aartidsbunden syuk Do not seek medical attention seek friends plan a an activity you are not sick it is the time to do a lot of studying praying to god is best going out for walks even the darkness if you are lucky to have a spouse sex is the best way as long as it is legal and not against god may gtod have mercy and grace on us.