weather effects

How does the weather affect your mood?

Some studies suggest that as many as 1 in 30 people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the UK, while a 2005 study by psychologists at the University of Alaska found that long winters can cause lethargy, carbohydrate craving, melancholy, incoherent thinking, libido loss and unsociability. The notion of winter sadness is generally accepted, but the science backing it up is less conclusive.

A wide-ranging 20 year study observing the link between season and mood found the correlation to be inconclusive. “It seems that some people may be too quick to put their mood down to the weather or the season,” say health analysts BMJ, “when the cause may be something else altogether.”

Bring me sunshine

So, onto a lighter note. Psychologists at the University of Michigan found that pleasant weather improves mood, memory and creativity. Many sources, such as the University of Michigan, cite the sun’s Vitamin D as an essential ingredient in wellbeing, and more time spent outdoors often equals more exercise, more brain activity and less time stuck indoors getting irritable.
But as you’ve probably guessed, it’s not quite as simple as all that. In the UK’s regular happiness surveys, the happiest and least anxious part of the nation is commonly named as Shetland, Scotland’s northernmost point. A famous 1998 study, Does Living in California Make People Happy?, saw psychologists David Shkade and Daniel Kahneman testing the theory that a sunny climate equates to a sunny disposition. The conclusion: it doesn’t.
In fact, a Dutch study found that rates of depression in the Netherlands peaked during summer and autumn. Some research goes further and suggests suicides are more common in the late spring and early summer.
That’s the research anyway. But what about your own experiences? How does the weather affect your mood?

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