Feeling sad? Don’t let the grey outside get you down.

Wet, cold and grey day’s getting you down? Beat the seasonal slump by embracing the Danish winter with warmth.
For many expats new to Denmark the winter weather can be a real downer. Life at this time of year naturally slows down, the days grow shorter, light becomes scarce, and we respond by hibernating just to keep warm. For some though, this seasonal slump can become a more serious problem. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, and begins and ends at about the same times every year. Most people notice SAD symptoms starting in autumn and increasing during the winter.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of winter-specific SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Tiredness and oversleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Social withdrawal

According to Dr Arnold Lieber in an article on Psycom.net “SAD is a ‘specifier’ of major depression, which is just a fancy word for a more specific kind, or subtype. Persons with seasonal affective disorder experience the symptoms at a particular time of year. With the changing of seasons, their depression goes into remission. If you notices this switch happening several times over two years, then you may qualify for this diagnosis,” he explains. Like in the case of Denmark, those who live farther from the equator also experience the symptoms more frequently. Dr Lieber goes on to say that if you are young woman or have a family history of depression, you may have an increased risk for SAD.  A range of treatments are available for SAD. It is however recommended that you consult a GP for a diagnosis as opposed to self-diagnosis. A GP will be able to recommend the most suitable treatment programme for you.

The danish weather can be both frightful and fantastic – and usually everything in between. Be prepared for all seasons in one day – all before lunchtime.

Don’t let the weather get you down
For many expats, like Erin Chapman, the Danish winter weather has the ability to bring on symptoms of SAD – even though they aren’t SAD sufferers. Erin says that for her, the Danish winters grew more intense the longer she lived in the country. She would say: “it’s not the cold – it’s the damp and grey!” The Danish weather can be both frightful and fantastic – and usually everything in between. Be prepared for all seasons in one day – all before lunchtime. As the Danes say, there’s no such thing as bad weather… just the wrong clothing. The best advice is to just embrace it and find something to enjoy about the winter weather – as Erin discovered in her love for winter foods. Read her story on page 18. It’s best to not brush off the yearly feeling as simply a case of the ‘winter blues’ or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year. Getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly, better managing your stress levels and finding activities will keep your mind active will all assist in turning your frown upside down this winter.


Text: David Nothling-Demmer
Sources: www.mayoclinic.org, www.psycom.net, www.nhs.uk