We’ve all experienced feelings of malaise with dreary, rainy, cold weather. Some call it the wintertime blues. But how exactly does weather affect our mood? What are the different ways it does so, and what can we do about it?
What Science Says About Our Mood and the Weather
Most research on the relationship between mood and weather demonstrates that weather can have a substantial effect on how we feel.
More Effective for Negative People
One insightful 2008 study found that good weather has a greater effect on boosting a person’s negative mood than on a positive one, with negative moods being improved on days where the weather was good, but with no effect on people who were already feeling positive.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is Real
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, is confirmed to exist, with an estimated 10 to 20% of cases of recurrent depression found to be following a seasonal pattern. SAD usually starts in the fall and lasts through winter before remission in the springtime. The preferred treatment is light therapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD is “not considered a separate disorder” from depression; patients experience the full symptoms of depression on a seasonal basis. Younger adults and those with a family history of depression are more likely to suffer from SAD.
Weather Affects Momentary Mood More than Overall Well-Being
One important finding is that our immediate mood (momentary happiness) is more affected by the weather compared to our general well-being. A German study in 1983 called people on rainy and sunny days to ask about their current mood and their general well-being. Participants reported higher levels of momentary happiness on days when it was sunny, while on rainy days how people felt was found to be lower.
A more recent 2013 study found that people surveyed on exceptionally sunny days indicated higher life satisfaction than respondents interviewed on days with “ordinary” weather. While these feelings appear to be fleeting and variable from day to day, it suggests that good weather may also affect our overall mood.
Why Does Weather Affect Mood?
One study in 1979 noted that good weather could affect mood through symbolic associations. To put it simply, good weather “could increase mood by stimulating thoughts of swimming, picnics, and other outings, whereas cloudy days could be associated with the disappointment of canceled plans and the annoyance of rain and snow.”
Vitamin D deficiency has even been linked to depression. Vitamin D is a unique and necessary vitamin and many people simply aren’t getting enough of it. With only a handful of foods containing any traces of this essential vitamin, the only way to get enough vitamin D is through adequate exposure to sunlight, hence its nickname of “the sunshine vitamin.”
Comprehensive research on this very subject was done by Canadian researchers, who reviewed 14 studies, consisting of 31,424 participants, and demonstrated that there is a strong correlation between depression and a lack of vitamin D; the lower the vitamin D level, the greater the chance of a person having depression. Several studies have also shown sunlight to markedly improve mood, similar to the aforementioned findings of light exposure decreasing depressive symptoms.
Need a More Permanent Depression Cure than Good Weather?
Even though the weather can help lift our mood, relying on good weather for our happiness is not sufficient and reliable. If you’re looking for a more proven, long-lasting treatment for your depression, consider TMS treatment from Mid City TMS.
TMS is safe and effective, with results that are substantially beneficial for most people. To learn more about this revolutionary treatment for depression and other mood disorders, contact Mid City TMS today.