Why the weather affects your mood

Here comes the sun...

So I’m sure it’s not just for me but rainy days suck. Except it’s the kind that makes you want to snuggle up, cozy, with a good book/movie and maybe even a someone.

But generally, a gloomy weather tends to colour my mood. It’s the way a bright blue sky, sunlight peeking through, makes me so happy as though I was colour-blind in another life.

It’s no coincidence that our mood can be likened to the climate, in how it’s said to darken or light up.

Perhaps, jokingly, once or twice, I’ve wondered if people dealing with a cooler climate are more temperate.

But is this scientific? Does the weather alter our moods? And if it does, what can we do about it?

First things first…

What is a mood? What mediates it? And what affects it?

Although hard to define, the mood is generally a subjective, long-lasting (when compared to fleeting emotions) and non-specific feeling.

There are different factors that affect our moods — sleep, diet, environment.

🧠 In case you missed last week’s issue on The Psychology of Breakups, click here.

Of the brain chemicals involved in modulating moods, the most notable is serotonin. This has been incorporated into the pharmacologic treatments for some depressive disorders.

Others — less known — are noradrenaline, dopamine and histamine.

Of moods & clouds ☁️

So does the weather actually affect our moods? While some studies showed no significant effect, others begged to differ.

But while research on this has been minimal and lacking so far, the general consensus seems to be that indeed, it does.

It’s even been noticed that higher temperatures and aggressive behaviour seem linked, although it’s uncertain why. Some have theorised that because people are less likely to go outside and socialise when it’s cold. However people tend to do the opposite (including drinking alcohol) when it’s warmer outside. Interestingly though, above a certain temperature, crime rates lower. It seems it’s too hot to literally do anything!

Oddly enough is its flip-side — some people have reported more happiness during the warmer, summer periods. According to research, 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.”

Some have also linked vitamin D (which can be “gotten” from the sun) to depression, but the claims haven’t been fully substantiated.

Regardless of what it is, conditions based on subjective experiences are very difficult to ascertain.

In extreme cases…

There’s a known mental health condition referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (which ironically spells SAD) in which some people experience depressive symptoms during seasons with less sunlight — fall and winter.

Although this took a while to be adapted due to skepticism, it’s now a recognised disorder. The reasons are unclear although people that are already prone to mood disorders (such as clinical depression) stand a higher risk.

Apart from medications, a possible treatment is — light therapy.

Go figure.

Anyhoo, the sun is out to play as I write this and I couldn’t be happier!

Have you/anyone you know struggled with this before?

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