Is there evidence that weather affects our moods

01:00 Mon 22nd Apr 2002 |

Asks Ursula:
Yes, there has been quite a lot of research into this. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - or winter blues, in particular, has come in for a lot of attention because so many people in the Northern hemisphere suffer from varying degrees of depression when the days are short.

However, you may be surprised to hear that it's not the cloudy, rainly weather that gets people down. Recent preliminary psychology studies at the University of London have shown that some of the highest rates of depression in the Western world have been found in hot, wealthy coastal cities such as the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia and in California in the US.

Q. But haven't they got all that sunshine
It's true that SAD is caused by lack of light, but it seems as if light just isn't an issue in hot countries.

Q. What causes the depression
The researchers think that heat may be to blame. The lethargic feeling that high temperatures bring, together with the sheer monotony of constant heat all year round, may have a negative affect on the body.

Q. Doesn't air conditioning help
It will certainly cool people down, but it can disrupt the body's natural balance.

Q. Does the heat knock people out of balance, too
Yes. Experts believe that our bodies are naturally adapted to seasonal change, and we need to have a lower mood in winter so we can experience a higher mood in summer.

Q. We actually need seasons which are hot and cold to stay well

Q. So we shouldn't worry about getting a bit depressed when the weather's grey and start hankering for warmer climes
Definitely not. Stay at home and stick on another cardi.

The World Health Organisation says, 'Research has shown that there is a link between too much UV exposure and the suppression of the immune system. Suppression of the immune system can lead to infections and an overall lowering of a person's health. This in turn could lead to depression.'

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