Do you feel dull and lethargic on gloomy winter days, while a sunny day makes your mood brighter? You may be suffering from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
If you notice that your mood, energy level, and motivation take a nosedive each November only to return to normal in April, you may have the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to Loyola University Health System experts. This condition interferes with a person’s outlook on life and ability to function properly, said researchers. But they were quick to add that this is a treatable condition. This depression has a close association with seasonal changes. It is more common in winter and this depression goes away by the beginning of summer. Also known as winter depression, this condition leaves you feeling lethargic and listless.
Don’t ignore it as the winter blues. At times, this depression may become very severe and you may have to seek treatment for it. Your doctor will probably recommend light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy to fight this condition. Researchers at Oregon Health And Science University say that melatonin, a naturally occurring brain substance, can relieve the doldrums of winter depression, also known as a seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science published the findings.
Literary experts might call it pathetic fallacy, a technique used to impose human emotions onto nature. A simple example would be how a happy scene in a story is usually linked to a beautiful spring or summer day and an episode of sorrow is attributed to a gloomy, possibly rainy day. But this literary technique has scientific backing, with various researchers studying the impact of weather conditions on our moods and behaviors.
How Weather Impacts Mood
One aspect of weather that is often linked to a better mood is sunshine. The brighter it is outside, the better most of us feel. Studies show that sunlight can often help improve mood, reduce fatigue and wipe out negative thoughts. An interesting study even found that diners in Minnesota tipped better on sunny days and that stock returns were better when the weather was good.
There is a downside to sunshine too though because as the temperature rises it might increase aggression. An increase in temperature is often linked to a rise in the cases of road rage and heinous crimes. Studies also show that higher humidity can make people irritable, while fluctuation in atmospheric pressure may cause headaches and even increase the risk of suicide.
Winter Affective Depression
These changes in mood and behavior have a link with moderate or high temperatures. Lower temperatures and the rain also impact mood. With winter approaching, the days will soon be shorter, the sun will disappear earlier than before, and temperatures will slowly drop. All these factors can have a negative impact on our moods.
People tend to be more lethargic in colder conditions and might also crave more carbohydrates during this time. This condition is a seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Said to impact people between late fall and early spring, SAD is caused due to an increase in the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Reduced exposure to sunlight also decreases the production of serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and appetite among other aspects of our behavior.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Dealing With
With different responses to high and low temperatures and additional weather features like the rain, it is important to understand what causes these responses and how to deal with them. Here are some simple tips to deal with seasonal changes that impact our emotional health:
Exposing the skin to any available sunlight during the winter can help increase the production of serotonin.
Apart from helping people with seasonal affective disorder, exposure to bright lights might have a positive effect even on those who are not suffering from this condition.
Winter months can induce lethargy. So performing simple stretches first thing in the morning can induce circulation and warm up the body.
Switching up your workout routine to incorporate gentler exercises like yoga can benefit joint health because the cold weather can increase joint stiffness and pain and reduce the ability to walk or run.
Carbohydrates may increase the production of serotonin. Hence, you must incorporate nutrient-rich starchy vegetables like parsnips and potatoes instead of pasta and bread for maximum benefits.
Being outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day can improve mood, concentration, memory, and productivity.
Many of these seasonal mood changes may be partially psychological. But it may benefit to understand the causes and adjust our lifestyle accordingly to avoid extreme mood swings.