May 28, 2008 / 7:26 PM / 11 years ago

Leave foggy Lima to fight depression, Peru says

LIMA, May 28 (Reuters) - Residents of Peru’s famously foggy capital should leave town once a week to see the sun and exercise frequently to combat seasonal depression, the Andean country’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Heavy coastal fog blankets Lima day and night during the South American autumn and winter, turning the sky a dark shade of gray and causing lethargy.

A lack of sunlight has been shown to leave people feeling down. Doctors say this can be alleviated with exercise or exposure to the blue skies in the countryside east of Lima.

"This type of depression must be taken seriously because in extreme cases it can lead to suicidal thinking," the Health Ministry told residents of Lima.

Suicides in Lima tend to double or triple during the autumn and winter months, authorities said, warning people to look out for symptoms of depression such as excessive sleepiness, social isolation and a taste for carbohydrates.

(Reporting by Maria Luisa Palomino, Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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