In the Nordic countries, lack of light has a significant impact on low morale and also has an impact on absenteeism at work. This is the conclusion of extensive research carried out in Finland and published at the end of 2023.
In some countries near the North Pole, daylight in the middle of winter only lasts a few hours, whether in Norway, Iceland or Finland. And this has repercussions on the morale of the inhabitants. In late autumn, the number of sick leave days in Finland is almost twice as high as in summer and around a quarter higher than in early autumn, estimates a recent study funded by the Council Research Institute of Finland and carried out within the framework of the research program on climate change and health. To arrive at this observation, the researchers based themselves on data from the social security agency Kela (the equivalent of Ameli in Europe) recording a total of 636,543 sick leave due to mental health reasons over a period of 12 years.
Previous studies have shown that some people suffer from winter depression (seasonal affective disorder). In Finland, this illness is so widespread that it has been called “kaamos depression”. It may manifest as an increased appetite and weight gain, as well as excessive fatigue and sleepiness. It is most often treated with light therapy, a recognized method which consists of reproducing as much as possible the beneficial effects of light on our brain and our body.
And unfortunately it may be that more and more people in Nordic countries are using it. Although the study did not look specifically at this phenomenon, it suggests that if climate change leads to brighter summers and darker winters in Finland, depression, anxiety and sleep problems could increase over time. winter due to these changes. “However, with the exception of sleep disorders, they could also become less frequent during the summer, if the light increases,” underlines a press release published on the website of the University of Eastern Finland.
Although the study in question does not mention a proven link between seasonal depression and climate change, other research has, however, already established relationships between rising temperatures and mental health. Research published in 2018 in Nature Climate Change, for example, found a deterioration in mental well-being correlated with rising atmospheric temperatures. According to this research based on the analysis of depressive language in more than 600 million updated contents from social networks, unmitigated climate change could lead to a total of 9,000 to 40,000 additional suicides in the United States and Mexico. here in 2050.