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Culture

Winter Blues

Feeling tired? Moody? You might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder….

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Feeling the chill inside

Every September, an illness starts spreading slowly through Europe, affecting millions of innocent Europeans throughout the continent. Housewives find themselves neglecting houshold chores, office workers can’t get out of bed and sport enthusiants have difficulties excercising.

This illness, called seasonal affective disorder, affects around 2% of Northern Europe’s population seriously, and a further 10% mildly.

Sleeping problems, lethargy and overeating are all symptoms of a disease which is best known simply as winter depression.

The disorder is related back to a lack of light in winter. Researchers have indeed found a shortage in bright light to have a significant impact on the brain’s function. SAD is therefore no psychosomatic illness: Animals react to the oncoming winter months with similar changes in mood and behaviour.

Women are are diagnosed to be especially sensitive to suffering from SAD – more so than men. And despite shops full of cheerful Christmas goodies and streets lined with colourful lights, children, too, are affected.

Many people get a sudden craving for chocolate, or simply cannot get out of bed when the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop. But for some, the symptoms are severe enough to disrupt their lives and to cause considerable distress.

Scientists have disclosed that winter depression can be a result of a faulty gene. This was found out after 20% of Sweden’s population was said to suffer from SAD, while people living in other, far northern countries such as Iceland seem to be less prone to the condition.

However, critics of the study say that SAD could also be entirely psychological. The symptoms of SAD could simply be a natural and desirable response to the cold months. According to one scientist, "In nature, animals are generally less functional in winter." A consolation for those who can’t get out of bed.



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