Vinterdepression Posted by Transparent Language 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
- 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.