You may have noticed the weather has an impact on your mood. On a cloudy and rainy day, you feel down and tired, or on a sunny day, you feel happy and more energized. The way the weather influences our well-being varies from person to person. Some people enjoy snowy, cold days, and others enjoy warm summer days. Regardless of what type of weather you prefer, there is research to back the influence that the weather has on an individual’s mood. Understanding the impact that weather has on us can help us better prepare for days ahead of us. If you struggle with seasonal depression or anxiety, paying close attention to weather changes can help you work towards recovery.
Rainy Days and Seasonal Depression
Rainy days are most often known to contribute to depression and sadness. This is due to the dip in serotonin levels caused by lack of sunshine. The dip in serotonin levels also contributes to food cravings for comfort foods and carbohydrates because they boost serotonin levels. However, this is only temporary and not an effective way to combat depression symptoms.
Atmospheric pressure also changes with rainy, dark days, worsening the body’s pain levels by causing pressure in the nerves and joints. Additionally, higher pain levels may lead to a lack of motivation and energy, worsening depression symptoms.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
A lack of sunlight has been associated with a negative mood. Research shows that this is because our bodies are built with an internal clock conditioned to coincide with night and day rotation. When the sun comes up, we feel alert, and when the sun goes down, we are likely to feel drowsy. Winter months mean shorter days and less sunlight. Usually, it is dark before you even leave work, and you may feel tired during your work hours because of this. When the sun goes down, your body begins to produce melatonin, known as a sleep-inducing hormone, and your body begins to produce less serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates a person’s mood, appetite, and sleep. A lack of serotonin during the day can lead to irritability and frustration.
Lack of sunlight is associated with a mood disorder, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD). Particularly, SAD is known to affect those that live in places in the world that have long winter months with less sun. SAD symptoms are like depression symptoms but usually return around the same time every year and go away in the warmer months. Those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder are also more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder.
Symptoms of SAD include:
- Low energy
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Feeling sluggish
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, unworthy, or guilty
- Losing interested in hobbies or activities
- Feeling depressed daily
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Sunlight typically has a positive effect on mental health and one’s overall well-being. Those who spend time outside in the sunlight increases serotonin production, mood, memory, and creativity. Therefore, research shows that those who spend a lot of time indoors or live in areas that produce little sunlight are more prone to mental illness, addiction, memory loss, and decreased cognitive function. Although the weather cannot be controlled, monitoring your symptoms and finding ways to combat depression on cold, cloudy, and rainy days can help you take better steps to improve your mental health.
Get the Mental Health Support You Need for Seasonal Depression at Harmony Bay Wellness
If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health concerns, reach out to Harmony Bay Wellness in Clementon, New Jersey. Our licensed therapists and psychiatrists work with clients to build an individualized treatment plan to fit their needs. Do not let seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder disrupt your life. Call today at 855.765.6399.