A few years ago, I spent my first continental winter, I call it "the first true winter of my life". I come from the Canary Islands, where winter "does not exist" there is spring all year round. I dreamed of spending a winter like in the movies, and that dream came true, when I did my Erasmus year in Poland, 4 years ago.
This year I am going through the “true winter” again and I am very scared, because that year in Poland, I realized that the snow is very beautiful, but not when there are snowstorms, not when the blue sky is not seen and the worst it is when it gets dark at 4 pm, while I leave work.
It was quite an experience, my first real winter, there were complicated moments like having the worst flu of my life, but at the same time incredible because I travel a lot in Europe, I met new cities and people from all over the world. But this year we do not have that type of stimulus, we are still in a pandemic, there are no travelers, there are probably no Christmas markets, the Christmas atmosphere is not felt, everything revolves around COVID-19, I am not doing my EVS in a big city either., where you meet people from all over the world, I am in a small town and it is very difficult to socialize.
This year my body has sent me signals, it has told me that it does not like winter - autumn. I feel tired, sad, from not seeing the sun, I miss my house, my family, friends, the beach and it is likely that I am going through an episode of seasonal depression, better known as the “winter depression”, which only occurs in regions of the world far from Ecuador where the natural biological rhythm of the organism is disturbed by the shorter days of winter, affects more than 12 million people throughout northern Europe (BBC, 2014).
A Dolce Welle report (2005) tells us that some 800,000 Germans suffer from depression in winter and feel tired, listless, and dull during the so-called "dark months" of the year, according to estimates by the German Health Insurance Association.
The trigger for winter depression is the lack of light, which causes less serotonin to be generated in the brain, a substance that helps revitalize the mood. From November, the days get shorter in Germany, and bad weather usually brings fog, clouds, and especially little sun. And this especially affects people who are not used to this type of climate.
Winter depression, whose proper name is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (Retreat Behavioral Health, 2021), in most cases, symptoms appear in late autumn or early winter and disappear during the sunniest days of spring and summer. Less often, people who show the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in the spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may be mild at first and become more severe as the season progresses.
According to Mayo Clinic (2020) signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may include :
- Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Have little energy
- Having difficulty falling asleep
- Have changes in your weight or appetite
- Feeling lazy or restless
- Have trouble concentrating
It is important that we take care of our mental health and that we do not think that this is a bad thing, or anything like that, it is important that we ask for help if we need it and that we are not alone, although sometimes it seems like it.
Alemania bajo depresión invernal | Alemania | DW | 25.11.2005
¿Por qué algunas personas sufren la "depresión de invierno"? - BBC News Mundo