Can Weather Affect Your Mood?

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

As most of the nation suffers through some of the hottest temperatures on record this summer, people are asking the question of how exactly does weather impact our mood. For instance, how does hot weather affect our mood? Does it make us more aggressive — or even more violent?

Does rain make us sad? How about cold temperatures… do they make us feel more like wanting to hunker down, hibernate, and isolate ourselves from others?
Let’s revisit how weather affects our mood and impacts our lives.
I last covered this topic a few years ago, taking a broad look at the research to see all of the different ways weather impacts our mood. It wasn’t surprising to me to see all the different ways that weather impacts our mood.

One of the findings I want to emphasize from the research, however, is that the weather’s impact on our mood may not be as great as we sometimes believe it to be. A lot of the research in this area has found variable, sometimes-conflicting results. So broad, general take-aways are not always to be had.

Season Can Affect How We Feel and Act

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Most people experience a change in their mood and behavior with the change of the season. These seasonal changes, especially the "winter blues," or "February blahs, "at the onset of winter, may be a nuisance for some and real problematic for many others. Seasons can cause changes not only in mood, but also in the energy level, sleeping, eating, social and sexual behavior. This is not a new knowledge. For ages, spring has been associated with joy, passion, and reawakening. Shakespeare said, "Sweet lovers love the spring." We know that for many of us spring outbursts in a "spring fever" or frenzy of "spring cleaning."

Valentine Day is as much an attempt to beat the winter blues as it is to celebrate the "passion of spring." On the other hand, winter with its darkness, cold, denuded trees, unfriendly winds, and lonely confinement, can cause depressed mood and other symptoms of depression. We avoid the "cold" people and seek the "warmhearted." Incredibly, the mental health field has only recently recognized the relationship between seasons and mood disorder, "Seasonal Affect Disorder," appropriately abbreviated, "SAD."

Does Your Mood Change with the Seasons?

Contributed by Tonya Ladipo, LCSW, Relational Psychotherapy

Fall is finally here, bringing with it cooler nights and darker mornings. Along with the temperature and light changes, many people are also dealing with back-to-school changes for themselves or their children. There are changes in schedules, routines, expectations, and even relationships.

Though many people consider spring to be a time of new beginnings, autumn is that for many people. It is a time of reflection on the summer and the year thus far, as well as a time of preparation for the winter and upcoming holidays. As we enter the harvest season, consider the physical, emotional, and relational ways you may be affected by this transition.

The impact of light and temperature on the human body is profound. We all need some level of light and warmth for our bodies to survive and thrive. Autumn, for some parts of the world, marks a change in both light and warmth as we approach colder and darker days.

Stress Management During the Holidays

by Janet Frank, Ph.D. Article originally appeared in Gainesville Family Magazine

How many holiday gatherings can you attend in one month without feeling overwhelmed? If you find yourself asking yourself this very question, you are not alone! Many of us experience “holiday blues,” ranging from a sense of increased stress to major depression. These feelings can be brought about by many factors, including increased stress and fatigue, unrealistic expectations, too much commercialization, or inability to be with family (or too much family!). Increased demands of shopping, parties, and house guests can also contribute to stress.

Common stress reactions during holidays can include headaches, irritability, overeating/overdrinking, and sleep trouble. Holiday blues can also affect some people who are sensitive to fewer hours of daylight. However, many of these feelings can be prevented, and if they were already present to begin with, they can be managed and eased.
Here are some tips for managing your own holiday stress:

1. Start planning early. Doing your shopping piece by piece throughout the year prevents the large accumulation of bills that comes from doing it all at once. It also allows you to shop at your leisure, and to avoid the holiday crowds.

Depression: What You Need To Know

Article courtsey of National Institute of Mental Health

Depression is a real illness

I’m a firefighter and ex-Marine. I should be able to deal with anything. But I was sleeping poorly and always in a bad mood. My work was suffering because I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I was just going through the motions and wondering what the point of it all was. I never considered that I might have an underlying condition. I figured this is just how life is.

When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It can cause pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her. Doctors call this condition “depressive disorder,” or “clinical depression.” It is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.

Signs and Symptoms

Sadness is only a small part of depression. Some people with depression may not feel sadness at all. Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least 2 weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD

Article courtsey of The Atlantic

Dr. Nicole Brown’s quest to understand her misbehaving pediatric patients began with a hunch. Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.

When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.

Emotional and Psychological Trauma

Article courtsey of

Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery

If you’ve experienced trauma, you may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with the right self-help strategies and support, you can speed your recovery. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on.

What is emotional and psychological trauma? Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

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