Do seasons affect your mood?


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The sun setting on a bunch of daffodils in April.

Nitya Borra, Contributing Writer

What’s your favorite season?  As seasons change, many of us experience changes in our mood and behavior. Psychiatric Times mentions that “seasonality” is when a season changes, affecting mood, energy, sleep, appetite, food preference, or desire to socialize with others. There may be a sense of sadness, loss, and lethargy that accompanies shortening days of winter. 

In the second century, Greco-Roman physicians were treating lethargy with sunlight. In 1894, explorer Frederick Cook linked seasonal sunlight loss to a mood disorder. More recently, characteristics of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have been dated back to 1984. This method would not work for the modern teenager, as we experience more significant mood changes that cannot be treated only with access to sunlight. 

John Hopkins Medicine informs that although there is no direct cause of SAD, it was determined that shorter days and less daylight can trigger chemical changes in the brain leading to mood changes during season changes. Additionally, melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, also is researched to be linked to SAD.

The National Institute of Mental Health informs that serotonin and melatonin maintain a daily rhythm that is tied to the seasonal changes. Changes in serotonin and melatonin levels negatively impact normal daily rhythm. Because of this, the length of days change sleep patterns, mood, and behavior. Deficits in vitamin D also can cause seasonal mood changes. With less daylight in the winter, people with SAD sometimes consume less vitamin D. For me, less vitamin D consumption impacts and even lowers my serotonin levels. 

Many common symptoms of SAD today involve feeling down as seasons change, having less energy than usual, feeling less productive, or mood swings. Common abnormal sleep patterns involve excess sleepiness, insomnia, or sleep deprivation. Other bodily changes include change of appetite, fatigue, or weight gain. 

On the other hand, there are many easy home remedies and lifestyle alterations to significantly reduce “winter blues,” before experiencing significant seasonal mood and behavioral changes. Spending time outside, even on cold or cloudy days, is a great way to keep your mood stable. Eating a well-balanced diet and connecting socially with friends will tremendously benefit your mood. For me, exercising regularly also has significantly decreased seasonal mood changes by lifting my mood and reducing stress and anxiety. 

Great ways for me to keep my mood stable include making my environment  brighter by opening blinds or windows. I like taking a walk outside, soaking up the sun when it’s shining, and enjoying the outdoor environment. Finally, normalizing my sleep patterns by creating a strong sleep schedule helped me reduce sleep deprivation and oversleeping. 

Seasonal changes in mood can be tough, and it’s crucial to learn how recognizing symptoms of SAD and using remedies to keep your mood and mental health stable can help you avoid frequent mood changes. 

By learning how to stabilize your mood and behavior patterns as seasons change, you will be able to understand what methods work for you in order to keep your head up and continue living your best life, regardless of the weather.