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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Ever feel like the winter is just too much to handle? You might suffer from Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Back in South Africa, we are blessed with glorious sunny weather.
Many of our activities are outdoors, and when it rains it’s easy to move an event to the next week with a certain amount of confidence that the weather will be better by then.

Sunshine comparison

According to the South African Department of Energy, “Most areas in South Africa average more than 2 500 hours of sunshine per year”

Pretoria:

  • The average sunshine hours per year for Pretoria is 3254 hours (of a possible 4383) with an average of 8:54 of sunlight per day.
  • It is sunny 74.2% of daylight hours. The remaining 25.8% of daylight hours are likely cloudy or with shade, haze or low sun intensity.
  • At midday the sun is on average 63.7° above the horizon at Pretoria.

Stuttgart, Germany

  • There is an average of 1776 hours of sunlight per year (of a possible 4383) with an average of 4:51 of sunlight per day.
  • It is sunny 40.5% of daylight hours. The remaining 59.5% of daylight hours are likely cloudy or with shade, haze or low sun intensity.
  • At midday the sun is on average 41.6° above the horizon at Stuttgart.

The winters here in Germany can be very cloudy, grey, wet and dark and most of all very long.
For many of us, this affects our moods, energy and wellbeing.
Don’t feel alone when you just cannot take this weather anymore, there is a name for it. It is called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

But also do not despair, there is help available.
The best therapy is of course to spend time with loved ones somewhere sunny.
When this is not possible, you can try the following:

Lifestyle measures

These include getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels.
Some suggest Vitamin-D can also help but this is not proven yet. According to Livingstrong, Vitamin D deficiency may cause

  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Tiredness and chronic fatigue
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased frequency of colds and infections

Psychotherapy

Talk therapy, particularly cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), can effectively treat SAD.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the type of antidepressant most commonly used to treat SAD.

Light Therapy

Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.
You can read here more about buying the correct equipment

Disclaimer:

I am not a medical professional, and cannot give medical advice. This post aims to raise awareness about SAD.

You can find more information on the Mayoclinic website or WebMD

You can also read more on our Winter in Germany post

Sources:

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