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Dozen ways to ward off autumn blues and woes

October 01, 2013, 16:08 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, October 1 (Itar-Tass) - This year’s September in Central Russia is exceptionally dull and boring - chilling winds, incessant rain and dire loneliness in the heart. In this unhappy environment many periodicals, both fundamental science editions and glamour magazines have offered piles of recommendations as to how to fight the seasonal depression. All these pieces of advice are not very much varied and most of them have been known for quite a while, but anyway it would not be redundant to go through them one more time. If depression is real and deep, it should be dealt with accordingly. In earnest.

It is at this season that many succumb to an onslaught of sadness that is often called the autumn spleen. The reasons for it have not been thoroughly studied yet, but most scientists agree that the lack of sunlight is the chief cause of this state of mind. According to one theory, the shortage of light throws the natural biological rhythms of the human body off balance. Our inner biological clock gets out of order.

According to statistics, depression today is one of the most widely spread diseases. One in five humans has been through a period of depression at least once. According to the forecasts of the World Health Organization by 2020 depression will take second place in the world on the list of reasons for taking a sick leave. The acute viral infections are number one, of course. Just recently depression was considered an illness that hits mostly people over forty years of age. These days the age of depression-vulnerable groups is going down. Quite frequent are the cases in which depression is diagnosed in school age children. According to the World Health Organization among the one million people around the world who take their own lives every year 80% had suffered from depression.

According to some estimates, the number of patients experiencing a depressed state of mind is going up by 3%-5% year in year out. The Novyie Izvestia daily quotes medics as saying that in Moscow 22%-23% of people who come to see doctors at the outpatient clinic for various reasons complain about depression.

In just 2%-3% of cases depression does not depend on external factors (endogenous depression), while the rest of patients develop it as a reaction to psychological strain.

The most typical symptoms of season depression are bad mood, low self-esteem, despair, apathy, irritability, poor ability to cope with stressful situations, long sleep, problems with waking up, sleepiness during the day, hunger, and craving for sweets. The physical symptoms include physical prostration, aches in the joints and stomach, poor ability to resist colds and lower mental performance.

Many prefer to pay no attention to autumn depressions. However, if the problem is not handled somehow, it may cause great harm to the quality of life. So if you are in a very bad mood for too long, then you should hurry to do something about it. In the second half of the 20th century special medical formulas - anti-depressants - were invented for this purpose and they get ever more effective with every year.

The best thing to do in a situation like that is to go and see the specialist and to follow his advice to the letter. But even for those who cannot say they are very sick and never feel like going to see a psychoanalyst, there exist quite a few handy tips which may help, or at least cause no harm.

To remain in a bright state of mind try to keep all the lights at home switched on. True, artificial light is not the light of the sun, of course, but do not try to save on your electricity bills. Also, during the autumn and winter time try to go to bed and to get up early.

Autumn is not the time for diets and self-imposed restrictions. Even the most enthusiastic dietologists recommend their patents to treat themselves to bitter chocolate that promotes the secretion of endorphins - the hormones of joy.

In the autumn the human body begins to suffer from the shortage of vitamins and minerals, so it is essential to diversify one’s diet by complementing it with berries, fruit and vegetables, including frozen ones.

One of the most effective means of fighting with the autumn depression, however plain it might seem, is exercise - sports and physical labor. Exercise promotes the secretion of endorphins, too.

Whenever one feels melancholic, it is very wrong to try to lock oneself up, but on the contrary to spend more time in the company of good old acquaintances and friends. Make use of your weekends, spend your time on trips and excursions. Recall your old hobbies or try to acquire new ones. If nothing works, then it is time to go on vacation.

Make your life more colorful. Put on yellow and red coats, scarves and rubber boots and carry bright umbrellas.

You should by no means follow in the footsteps of workaholics, experts say. People who work eleven hours or more a day suffer from depression twice more frequent in contrast to those whose working day lasts the regular eight hours.

The weekly Moscow News has offered some advice as to what things are worth buying to cheer up oneself. The newspaper believes that one of the best ways to fight stress is to use special toy pillows (also called anti-stress pillows), filled with granulated polystyrene. Amazingly, the nerve endings in the tips of one’s fingers are so sensitive that simple rolling of the tiny balls inside the toy pillows in the morning, during the day and in the evening is capable of making one feel thrice happier.

A light diode lamp is another remedy. As it has turned out, ordinary electric bulbs radiating yellow light merely aggravate the seasonal depression. The light diode bulb radiates full spectrum light and consumes 80% less energy than the ordinary incandescent lamp. What is still more important is that warm white light helps the human body generate endorphins.

Not only light, but also warmth influences on the secretion of hormones of joy in the human body. Those who have problems with staying warm even in relatively warm weather suffer the most, in particular, in the autumn and winter season. In this case the good old hot water bottle should be kept handy.

And another light-radiating gadget, but a far more intricate one - special headphones against depression Valkee - an innovative product from Finnish scientists. On the face of it it is an ordinary MP3 player - a flat metal box and a couple of headphones. The fundamental difference is that the headphones emit not sound, but light. The light signal gets right into the human brain to affect those parts of the central nervous system which are responsible for the secretion of serotonin.

Do not stop your struggle against depression until it has gone for good, the specialists in the know urge one and all.