Is the winter sad

Autumn blues, winter depression or depression? And does Corona make you more susceptible to it?

"You can easily do something yourself against winter depression," explains Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Hillemacher, Head of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy *, Nuremberg Hospital. Walks in the fresh air or light therapy with the help of a lamp that has enough light intensity can help through the dark winter months. Hillemacher initially advises daily walks. Because when you take a long walk, even in cloudy winter weather, a comparable amount of light is absorbed as with light therapy. The combination of light and exercise has been shown to help with depression. If all of this is not enough, psychotherapeutic or drug treatment is possible.

Autumn blues - the mild variant of winter depression 

It often happens in Central Europe that one becomes sad, in a bad mood and listless on cloudy and cold autumn and winter days. Around 15 percent of the population suffer from autumn or winter blues. However, this temporary mood has nothing to do with true depression. Instead, the autumn or winter blues are considered a harmless variant of winter depression. Tiredness and lack of drive can easily be driven away by exercise in the fresh air. "Get off the couch and out to the door," advises the chief doctor.

Watch out: only every tenth depression that occurs in winter is winter depression 

Most of the depression that occurs in winter is classic depression that should definitely be treated. Only one in ten depression is winter depression. This means that winter depression is one of the rarer depressive illnesses.

You should always pay attention when the bad mood significantly affects everyday life, the person concerned withdraws socially and can no longer cope with everyday life as before. Other warning symptoms are increased alcohol consumption or the occurrence of suicidal thoughts.

If one or more of the symptoms mentioned occurs, you should see a doctor straight away, advises Hillemacher. “If depression is detected early, it can usually be treated well. And the risk that depression turns into a chronic illness is then low. "

Does Corona increase the risk of depression this autumn and winter? 

"In any case, it can be expected that this autumn and winter will be particularly difficult for many people," emphasizes Hillemacher. The limitations of social contacts, the insecurity and worries about one's own health or the health of relatives are an ideal breeding ground for psychological problems of all kinds - but above all for the occurrence of depression. It is important to take countermeasures at an early stage, e.g. with a clear daily structure and exercise outdoors. Despite the restrictions, one should definitely not forego social contacts. You can also talk to family and friends over the phone and video. If you can no longer cope with the situation, you should definitely get help.

At the Crisis Service Middle Franconia, people in emotional distress can find help quickly and easily, Tel. 0911 4248550 daily from 9 a.m. to midnight.


* University Clinic of the Paracelsus Medical Private University 


Photo: Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Hillemacher

Photo credits: Rudi Ott, Nuremberg Hospital


Author: Doris Strahler, corporate communications