Short, dark, cold days, rain, snow: winter time puts many people in a bad mood. We'll show you how to meet the winter blues with a smile.
The dark season depresses many people. Every fourth person suffers from depressive moods in winter alone. It's not just the bad weather to blame. The lack of sunlight is also responsible for the bad mood. With these tips you are guaranteed to win the fight against the winter blues.
When the days get shorter, colder and darker again, most people want to hide away. They feel dull, sleepless and unmotivated, even though they have slept a long time. But iIs Winter Depression A Real Depression? The The main reason for the bad mood is a lack of light and low serotonin levels.
Too little light inhibits the formation of the stimulant and happiness hormone serotoninthat as mood works. At the same time, the body releases too much melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that controls the day-night rhythm. That is also the reason why we suffer from constant fatigue, especially in winter. The cold season not only depresses the mood - it also upsets the hormone balance. Sometimes the symptoms can be severe enough to resemble true depression. But is it really depression?
Even if it seems different at first, in most cases it is a harmless depressive mood that is seasonal. Statistically, around 800.000 people (1 percent of the population) suffer from winter depression, also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), with fatigue, a greater need for sleep, sadness and drive disorders. Occasionally, back and neck pain can also occur. Sufferers usually have an increased appetite for carbohydrates, especially chocolate. Doctors only speak of winter depression if it occurs in two consecutive years.
Believe it or not: The internal clock in the body ticks differently than in summer. The biggest problem is the lack of light, which literally puts us into hibernation. It gets light relatively late in the morning, while it gets dark early in the evening. The The need for sleep is actually much higher in winter than in summer. Although most people stick to their sleeping habits, they are sleepless and sluggish in the morning.
The reason: In winter our organism switches to the back burner. Although we do not hibernate, we seem to be constantly tired in the cold and dark season. Light is in short supply in winter, although it is extremely important for our body. It not only regulates our day-night rhythm - it also stimulates the release of important hormones that lift our mood.
However, light has another task. It is essential for the formation of vitamin D, which our body cannot produce itself.1 Since it is much lighter in summer, we don't get enough vitamin D in winter. The body can store the sun vitamin, but the summer vitamin D stores are quickly used up in the cold season. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is like a hormone that controls a number of metabolic processes.
Vitamin D has an influence on:
Vitamin D will however only produced with sufficient light. More precisely, it finds Vitamin D synthesis mainly between 11 a.m. and 15 p.m. instead of. In addition, our body can only produce the vitamin when the sun's rays hit the skin directly. Since we cover our skin with thick winter clothing in winter and the sun often hides behind thick clouds and fog, we can hardly fill up on the vitamin. Even if you take a walk at lunchtime, your body cannot produce as much vitamin D as it does in summer. In general, if your shadow is longer than your body, you are getting too little vitamin D. Although the sun vitamin is also contained in some foods, the vitamin D percentage is extremely low in relation to sunlight.
The sun has a huge impact on your hormone levels. This is particularly noticeable in the winter months when light is scarce. Light is not only required for the production of vitamin D. The greater need for sleep in winter is mainly due to the higher melatonin secretion. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that your body produces primarily at night. Dawn is usually seen as a signal to reduce the hormone. In winter, however, the sun rises much later than in summer, which is why your body releases an excessive amount of melatonin. Since the sun is rarely seen in the cold season, the melatonin release continues during the day. Your day-night rhythm gets completely mixed up. Not only do you find it difficult to get out of bed - you also want to go to sleep early in the evening.
However, vitamin D and the sleep hormone melatonin are not the only ones responsible for the winter blues. The higher need for sleep and The happiness hormone serotonin could also be responsible for the depressed moodthat creates a real mood slump in winter. While the serotonin level is very high in summer, it reaches an all-time low in winter. Read here for more detailed information on how to use the Increase serotonin levels can.
This could be due to the fact that the hormone is hardly activated due to the weak light intensity. Light, Blue light, in particular, is essential for the formation of the happiness hormone serotonin. In the morning it acts as a signal generator, which is why we wake up as soon as sunlight hits our skin and retina. However, as soon as the body produces too little serotonin, the melatonin level is too high. The result: We feel listless and sleepy.
The following tips will help you to raise your serotonin and vitamin D levels and keep your melatonin level in balance:
In summer, the vitamin D requirement can be met by daily sunbathing for 10 to 30 minutes. In winter we have to fall back on our vitamin D reserves, which we can replenish either with the right foods or with dietary supplements. Scientists, however, still disagree about how high the vitamin D requirement actually is.2
On average, adults should take 800 IU (International Unit) daily. That corresponds to a dose of 20 µg per day. Infants and toddlers manage with a daily dose of 400 to 500 IU (10 µg) of vitamin D.
As soon as the blood values slip below the specified values, there is a vitamin D deficiency, which can no longer be compensated with the recommended daily amount (maintenance dose). Here between 3.000 and 5.000 IU may be necessary to fill up the empty memory. In comparison: In summer the body can synthesize between 10.000 and 20.000 IU in the midday sun.
Since most foods contain far too little vitamin D and the sun rarely shows up, you have to Also cover the daily requirement in winter with food supplements. You can also cover your needs with your diet, for which, for example, high-fat fish is ideal.
These foods are good sources of vitamin D:
Another remedy for winter depression is exercise. Movement not only gets your circulation going, but also your mood. The longer and more persistent you move, the more happiness hormones your body releases, such as endorphins and serotonin. The pick-me-ups are formed in the diencephalon. Running and swimming are ideal in this regard. These sports also promote the reduction of stress because the constant movements have an almost meditative effect.
By the way: If you prefer to move outside between 11 a.m. and 15 p.m., you can also fill up with vitamin D and kill two birds with one stone - as long as the sun is out.
In winter, many people feel a real one Cravings on candy. Many instinctively reach for chocolate to caress their souls. Chocolate actually seems to work after consumption you feel more balanced and happier. This is mainly due to the amino acid L-Tryptophanthat are not only found in unsweetened, pure cocoa powder, but also in soybeans and cashew nuts. Tryptophan is the starting material of the happiness hormone serotonin, which is converted in the brain.
In addition to chocolate, other sweet foods also seem to lift the mood. This is mainly due to the fact that foods rich in carbohydrates are converted into glucose, so that the pancreas produces more insulin. Put simply, insulin boosts tryptophan levels. Serotonin is formed from tryptophan. This also explains why we increasingly use chocolate and other sweet foods, especially in the cold season.
In the case of a bad mood, the following are especially helpful:
If you suffer from depressive moods in winter, you should often high-fat fish to grab. Scientists suspect that Omega-3 fatty acids protect against depression. This thesis has been confirmed by studies carried out in Scandinavia, Taiwan and Japan. Far fewer people with depression were counted in these countries than in Germany, Canada or the USA.3 The vitamin D contained in fish, which promotes the production of serotonin, is primarily responsible for the mood-enhancing effect.
It is not yet sufficiently proven whether omega-3 fatty acids also have a positive effect on the mind. It is assumed that the fatty acids combine with the protein building block albumin, which serves as a means of transport for the fatty compounds. The more fatty acids combine with the protein, the fewer protein building blocks are left for the amino acid tryptophan. The amino acid thus reaches the brain unbound, where it is converted relatively quickly into serotonin. Unfortunately, this effect only lasts for a few hours, so that the craving for fatty and sweet foods is repeated over and over again.
There is another simple remedy for winter depression: light. Light is considered the best antidepressant, which is why a Light therapy in winter definitely worth it.4 The blue component of the light should be very highto stimulate the production of serotonin. In this regard, high-quality therapy devices work with a strength of 10.000 lux. In comparison: In illuminated interiors, only between 500 and 600 lux are achieved. On cloudy winter days, the light intensity in the fresh air is a maximum of 2.500 lux. In summer, however, between 10.000 and 100.000 lux are generated.
Since the light is mainly absorbed through the eyes, there are special reading lamps that you can either carry or place on the desk. In Scandinavia, light therapy has proven itself for many years. There the lamps are even installed at bus stops as well as in office and waiting rooms in order to provide more brightness in the dark season. By the way: You should turn these lights off before going to bed because they inhibit the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. This also applies to laptops and smartphones, whose displays also work with blue light.