How to beat back the Swedish winter blues
Published: 20 Dec 2011 11:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Dec 2011 11:37 GMT+01:00
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The trees have been stripped bare of their leaves, it's cold, and the clocks have gone back.
And it’s dark. Very dark.
It's at this time of year that some of us begin to wonder, with some justification, why on earth we live in Sweden.
Living in northern latitudes means that, by mid-December, there is approximately two hours' less light in Stockholm compared to, say, London or Brussels.
But if you think the light situation in the capital or the south of Sweden is bad, spare a thought for the very far north of the country where, above the Arctic Circle, residents may not see the sun for two months.
The winter gloom can be hard to deal with – for Swedes and foreigners alike.
Experts calculate that up to one in five of the Swedish population suffers – in varying degrees – from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), linked to the absence of sufficient sunlight.
The symptoms include depression, listlessness and general inertia – a feeling of being considerably more tired – and grumpy – than usual.
Other indicators may include a diminished sex drive and disturbed appetite.
And while incurable optimists genetically predisposed to year-round cheerfulness might laugh at us “SAD-dies”, it is recognized as a genuine medical condition, which may also be further aggravated by stress and can be hereditary.
But don't despair, there are steps we can take to help us cope with so-called vinterdepression.