After a cold and dark winter, most people are looking forward to the longer, sunnier days
of spring that are right around the corner.
Most people have a favorite season, whether they enjoy fall's colorful leaves, spring's flowers,
the snow in winter or days in the summer sun.
While each season has its pros and cons, some people believe that winter may have more
downsides than the others.
There could be many reasons for this, including the low temperatures, the stressful
holiday seasons or the potential for worse weather.
In a recent study done by the University of Copenhagen, research shows that rates of
seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD — a fitting acronym) increased.
Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood, and in the winter months, a lack of
sunlight interferes with normal hormone activity in people's brain.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression
that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.”
This lack of normal brain chemicals directly contributes to a decreased mood and poor
mental health in the shorter and darker days of winter.
In an Instagram poll with 93 participants, 89% of people reported that their mental health
and mood were noticeably worse in the winter, and 86% said their mental health was at its best
in the spring and summer months.
One participant wrote that the reason for their change in mood was “Less sunshine, less
blue skies, not as warm. Instead it's cold, gray, and rainy for weeks on end.”
According to the results of the poll, weather conditions play a key part in the general
mental well-being of most people.
A common response in the poll was that people were not able to spend time outside, and
they could not be active unless it was indoors.
“I'm an outdoorsy person, so not being outside really affects me," one participant said.
The lack of sunshine, cold weather and interference with people's daily activities can be
devastating to some people, especially those with pre-existing mental health conditions.
An article by the Cleveland Clinic outlines those who may be at a higher risk for SAD,
saying that it is more likely in those that “Have another mood disorder, such as major depressive
disorder or bipolar disorder.”
It is very important for those who deal with seasonal affective disorder to prioritize their
health, both mental and physical, during the times in which it is the most prevalent.
The primary treatment for SAD is light therapy, which is artificial lights that mimic
sunlight in order to boost serotonin receptors and regulate hormones, subsequently improving
Finding the time to be with friends and family, participating in hobbies and speaking to
loved ones about mental health can also relieve symptoms of SAD.
Now that the winter months have come to a close, and the sun has re-introduced itself,
people who experience SAD will likely find some relief soon.
For those that deal with seasonal affective disorder in the fall and winter, spring and summer bring about new opportunities, a fresh mindset and renewed energy and motivation.
The days are becoming longer, and the sunny and warm weather encourages people to get
outside, be active and spend time around others.
With springtime comes new growth — not only are the flowers blooming and trees turning
green again, but people have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, improve their mental health and appreciate daily life just a little bit more.