Why Denmark’s extra grey January can cause winter blues

Denmark has seen considerably greyer and wetter weather this January than is average for the month. Experts have offered advice on how to deal with the darker seasons.

Why Denmark’s extra grey January can cause winter blues
January is not known as Denmark's most exciting month of the year, but 2023's edition has been wetter and greyer than normal. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Windy, grey and rainy weather have made this January a dull one so far, according to DR’s meteorologist Thomas Kaa Mørk in an article on the broadcaster’s website.

“Until Tuesday this week, 107.6 millimetres of rain have fallen [in January]. That’s the third-largest amount in January since records began in 1874,” Mørk told DR.

Additionally, this month has so far seen 17.3 hours of sunshine. The normal total for January is 52 hours, so with 11 days of the month remaining it looks like the average will not be reached.

A chronic lack of sunshine can make the first month of the year begin to feel interminable, professor of photonics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Paul Michael Petersen, told DR. Petersen researches the effect of light on human health.

“Having a healthy life is dependent on the light in our surroundings. At the same time, unhealthy light can have a large negative consequence for people,” he said.

“The problem in Denmark is that there’s simply not enough light, and the light we do have doesn’t really have the right colours to make us well-functioning,” he told DR.

“This was useful in the past because when it was dark, there was no reason to spend a lot of energy finding food, because it was hard to find. But today it’s not very useful to be partly in hibernation when you arrive at work,” he said.

“The best thing you can do to compensate for the lack of light in January is to be outside a lot during daytime especially in the morning and afternoon,” he said.

Feeling lower on energy in winter compared to summer is not solely due to the light, though, another expert told DR.

“The days are short and you might have less mental energy to do the things that are good for your mental health. But it’s important not to just go home after work and sit down and slump,” researcher Charlotte Bjerre Meilstrup, who leads the project ABC for mental sundhed (mental health) at the University of Copenhagen’s Institute for Psychology, said to DR.

The project has three specific pieces of advice that can be applied at times when the winter month of January really feels like it’s dragging, she said.

“Do something active – this could be something physically active, but it could also be mental. Read a book or solve a sudoku,” she said to DR.

Being active with others, limiting isolation, is also important at a time of year when there are fewer public events going on.

“Do something together – being part of a community or something for other people has a huge impact on mental wellbeing,” she said.

Finally, the mental health expert advised doing “something meaningful – and remember that what is meaningful for others is not necessarily meaningful for you”.

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How serious is Danish recall of antibiotic medicine?

The Danish Medicines Agency, Lægemiddelstyrelsen, recently recalled antibiotic medicine Dicillin.

How serious is Danish recall of antibiotic medicine?

The medicines authority said on Monday that persons using the antibiotic medicine Dicillin, produced by Sandoz, should return it to pharmacies to be replaced.

That came after multi-resistant bacteria known as CPO were detected in nine cases in patients who have taken the antibiotic.

The nine cases were detected over a four-month period.

READ ALSO: Danish medicines authority recalls antibiotic used by 35,000 people

The researcher who detected the issue with the antibiotic said in an interview with news wire Ritzau that he was very surprised when it first became apparent.

“We couldn’t believe it. What we had feared was actually the case,” senior physician and professor Ulrik Stenz Justesen of Odense University Hospital’s clinical microbiology department told Ritzau.

“I’ve been in this game for quite a few years now and I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” he said.

Around 35,000 people in Denmark were prescribed the antibiotic between September and December last year, according to the Danish Patient Data Authority (Sundhedsdatastyrelsen).

The actual number of people who are using the medicine could be larger than this because it may have been sold after that period, Ritzau writes.

Multi-resistant bacteria are resistant to treatment with several types of antibiotic.

CPO or carbapenemase-producing organisms are a group of bacteria that are resistant to several different types of antibiotics. They can be difficult to treat, according to information from the Danish Health Authority.

The risk of becoming seriously ill due to CPO is low for a healthy person, but people who are already ill or vulnerable can be at increased risk.

Infection with multiresistant bacteria can also mean all future hospital treatments for the affected person must be given in isolated rooms, so the bacteria are not passed on to other patients.

That could have serious consequences at Danish hospitals where capacity is already under strain, according to Justesen.

“That would increase the strain on a health system that is already severely strained,” he said.

Medicines of this type are produced under highly controlled conditions, which makes the discovery even more extraordinary, he explained.

“We don’t study medicines daily to see whether there are bacteria in them. But this is a bacteria that behaves so strangely that we immediately notice it,” he said.

Although the detection of the bacteria is concerning, the professor in microbiology said finding it was also reassuring in some way.

“We were also relieved that we could do something about it and get it stopped so we didn’t have to look around for many months for a source and know it was spreading in the community,” he said.

Manufacturer Sandoz has recalled all Dicillin packets and patients have been advised to return it to pharmacies to be replaced. Patients do not need to obtain a new prescription from their doctor.

“It’s important that you don’t stop your treatment if you are taking antibiotics. So patients to take 500mg Dicillin from Sandoz should go to their pharmacy to get a different, equivalent preparation,” the Danish Medicines Agency said in Monday’s statement.