Weather And Mental Health
I think you will agree with me, that the weather has a huge impact on our mental health.
When the sun is shining, the plants, animals and humans are just more alive and kicking. You can feel it. The nergy level is higher, you can do more things and people are smiling more.
That is the situation in Scandinavia right now. We have broken the record for sun shining hours. Actually 363 hours in may and june has followed well so far. That also means that we are in need of rain. The plants thirst and so does the farmers on behalf og their crops.
Even for a gardener like me it is becoming quite expensive in water. I have to water my plant every third afternoon, otherwise they will die slowly. But still I love this kind of weather and like I said above, most of us do.
Summer weather affects mental health by wearing down your body. The summer sun feels amazing after a long winter and rainy spring, but sunlight can have some surprising effects on the body. Spending time out in the sun can make you feel tired. According to sleep.org1, this could be a sign of dehydration or that your body is working overtime to control its temperature. Remember to avoid extended hours in the sun and drink plenty of water.
Heat alone can have an effect on your body as well. Stated in How Weather can Effect Mental Health2, extended periods in the heat can cause sleeplessness, lethargy, lack of appetite, and dehydration, all of which can lead to aggressive behaviors and anxiety. Warmer weather can also attribute to higher crime and suicide rates. These rates could be a huge concern if you factor in climate change, where in some areas hotter weather will become the norm warns research from Waseda University in Japan3.
Warm weather and sunlight can also be dangerous for those using psychotropic medications (Heat Can Affect Psychiatric Patients). According to medicinetnet.com4, the combination of certain medications and sunlight can cause photosensitivity, an inflammation of the skin similar to sunburn. These medications also make people at higher risk of heatstroke and heat-related illnesses. To protect yourself, limit your time in direct sunlight, stay hydrated, and use sunscreen.
Higher temperatures can bring a depressed person up.
Denissen et al. (2008) found that weather?s daily influence has more of an impact on a person?s negative mood, rather than helping one?s positive mood. Higher temperatures raise a person with a low mood up, while things like wind or not enough sun made a low person feel even lower.
Seasonal affective disorder is real.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a very real kind of depressive disorder (technically referred to as a depressive disorder with seasonal pattern) wherein a person?s major depressive episode is connected to a specific season. While we most commonly think of SAD affecting only people in the fall or winter months, a minority of people also experience SAD during the spring and summer months too.
Heat (and extreme rain) brings out the worst in people.
Hsiang et al. (2013) found a link between human aggression and higher temperatures. As temperatures rose, the researchers noted that intergroup conflicts also tended to jump ? by 14 percent (a significant increase). The scientists also found interpersonal violence rose by 4 percent.
These findings held true not only for higher temperatures, but also that wet stuff that falls from the sky ? rain. The more it rained (especially in areas where high rainfall is not expected), the more aggressive people seemed to get. However, this research could only show a correlation between the two. It?s not at all clear that weather causes these things to happen.
Other research has confirmed this finding. For instance, researcher Marie Connolly (2013) found that women who were interviewed on days ?with more rain and higher temperatures [reported] statistically and substantively decreasing life satisfaction, consistent with the affect results.? On days with lower temperatures and no rain, the same subjects reported higher life satisfaction.
The Impact of Weather May Depend On Your Weather Personality Type
Klimstra et al. (2011) found that half of the 415 adolescents studied weren?t really impacted much at all by changes in the weather, while the other half were. Further analyses determined the following weather personality types:
- Summer lovers (17 percent) ? ?Happier, less fearful, and less angry on days with more sunshine and higher temperatures. More hours of precipitation was associated with less happiness and more anxiety and anger.?
- Summer haters (27 percent) ? ?Less happy and more fearful and angry when the temperature and the percentage of sunshine were higher. With more hours of precipitation they tended to be happier and less fearful and angry.?
- Rain haters (9 percent) ? ?Angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation. By comparison, they were more happy and fearful, but less angry, on days with more sunshine and higher temperatures.?
- Unaffected by weather (48 percent) ? Largely unimpacted by changes in the weather.
We need to keep in mind that this weather personality type analysis was done only on Dutch teenagers ? meaning we don?t know how generalizable the results are to adults and people living in other countries. But it potentially sheds some light on the conflicting research into how weather impacts our mood. Maybe the reason some researchers have a hard time finding a meaningful correlation is because it depends on what kind of weather personality you are studying.
Weather Doesn?t Have to Impact Your Mood
Connolly (2008) found that men responded to unexpected weather by simply changing their plans. Raining? Let?s stay in instead of going for a hike. Unexpectedly warm day? Let?s take advantage of it by going to the water park or beach. Women, on the other hand, didn?t seem as likely to modify their activities, thereby more often taking the brunt of the unexpected weather on their mood.
Weather seems to have a real and measurable impact on many people?s mood, but is dependent upon many factors. The impact of the weather is probably going to be greater in any geographic location that experiences lengthy periods of unusual weather. For instance, if it?s hot and sunny for months on end, that?s probably going to make more of an impact in Seattle (a usually rainy and cool place to live) than in Miami (a usually hot and sunny place to live). It may also depend upon your ?weather personality type,? but that needs further research to confirm.
But in the meanwhile I just know that the good sunny weather has a huge beneficial impact on my mood and quality of life. Below I have placed two pictures of places that makes me happy….and especially in good weather.
Hope you can use all the things that I have written above. If you still have days when you are feeling blue, I know about a site that has some great quality readings, Jen Reviews. Here you, among lots of other things, can read about feeling blue and how a mental health diagnosis can be empowering. It is completely free and carefully backed by research. You can find it here:
Love, Sun And Wisdom