How weather affects mood

Shorter days this time of year can have an unwanted effect. Photo courtesy

With fall just beginning and winter approaching, it is important to remember to closely monitor your mental health.

Scientific studies show that when the weather is sunny outside, your brain releases a happy hormone called serotonin. However, its opposite, melatonin, is released when the weather is cloudy, rainy or dark.

According to, Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, is a form of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months due to less sunlight and shorter days. If a person is feeling good, the dreary weather most likely will not affect their mood. But to someone who is already feeling under the weather, their sadness could worsen.

Some symptoms that can occur when experiencing SAD include loss of interest in activities, loss of energy, thoughts of suicide, changes in appetite, and even an abnormal sleep schedule.

There are treatments for this depression such as light therapy, medication and meditation, but there are also preventative measures that can be taken as well. Before a person feels sad, advises that one should “set small goals, exercise regularly, eat balanced meals and healthy food, and to get plenty of sleep.”

Studies show that people ranging from age 12 to 25 are more prone to experience depression along with suicidal tendencies.

Alexandra Newbins, a University of North Florida psychology student, is aware of the effects of weather on mood and has already started to prepare. “I never really paid attention to the fact during the wintertime around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I begin to feel symptoms of depression,” Newbins said. “Recently, I took up cooking and baking and honestly it gives me something to do in times where I feel there’s nothing to look forward to.”

Licensed professional counselor Julianne Schroeder said, “You won’t experience a transformation overnight, but being committed to thinking, feeling, and doing things differently will allow for a different result.” This is important to remember because there are good days and bad days for everyone, but the important thing is that you must ensure the good days will outweigh the bad.

Going into this cooler part of the year, remaining aware of your mental state is imperative. It is important to understand that even if you feel alone, you never truly are. With the help of friends, family members and medical professionals, there is always a way out of the current funk you may be in.