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Am I Depressed? How to Cope with Seasonal Depression in Europe

Europe’s allure is undeniable – charming streets, historic architecture, and a cultural tapestry that’s both rich and enchanting. But here’s the plot twist: beneath those iconic landscapes lies a challenge many overlook – the gloomy, overcast winters that can trigger the dreaded seasonal depression. You may be unprepared for the effect the gray overcast can have on you if you’re coming from a sunny place.

The Gray Veil Over European Winters

You may be the main character, but this is not a movie! The picturesque European winters we often see in films are pieces of reality. While places like New York average 52% overcast during its cloudiest month, places like Paris are closer to 73% in theirs. Those gray skies that stretch for days can cast a shadow on your mood that’s hard to shake off. Seriously – that extra 20% makes a difference.

Seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), isn’t just a myth. It’s a real phenomenon triggered by reduced sunlight exposure, affecting locals and expats alike.

Tips for how to cope with seasonal depression in Europe

Tip 1: Light Therapy

Bright light therapy mimics sunlight exposure through artificial light. Investing in a light therapy box may help regulate your body’s internal clock and alleviate SAD symptoms.

TIP 2: Stay Active

Try to engage in regular physical activity, which could boost your mood and energy levels. Even a short walk outdoors during the daylight hours may make a significant difference.

TIP 3: Embrace Hygge

The Scandinavian concept of hygge – creating coziness and comfort – may counteract the gloom. Try surrounding yourself with warm lighting, soft blankets, and enjoyable indoor activities.

TIP 4: Vitamin D Supplements

The lack of sunlight may lead to Vitamin D deficiency. Consider consulting a healthcare professional about vitamin D supplements to support your mood and overall health.

TIP 5: Seek Support

As the CDC recommends, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors may provide strategies for managing SAD and improving mental well-being.

You’re not alone

While the gray skies of Europe might cast a literal shadow, it doesn’t have to dictate your experience. With awareness and coping mechanisms, you can navigate how to cope with seasonal depression and embrace the beauty that Europe has to offer.

Remember, seasonal depression is a reality that many face, so please do not feel alone or even ungrateful for acknowledging that you may not feel like yourself in such a beautiful place.

As the CDC recommends, If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.


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