How the Weather Affects Mental Health

A visual cartoon depticting how the changes in seasons can affect an individual's mood

   The weather heavily affects our mental health. Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that starts and ends at the same time every year. Seasonal depression usually happens when the seasons change; most symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter. Research has shown that the lower level of sunlight in the winter months may affect an individual’s serotonin. Brain scans have shown that people who had seasonal depression in the winter had higher levels of melatonin (a hormone which can affect sleep patterns and mood), Therefore, when the days are shorter, the production of melatonin can increase. In the winter there is typically less crime and lower suicide rates, but many people feel tired and isolated from staying indoors. Also in the winter, studies show that people are more empathetic and try to help others more.

   Light therapy, exercising more, increasing the amount of light at home, stress management techniques, spending more time outside and getting more sun can help one deal with seasonal depression.

-Written by staff reporter Jaspreet Kaur