How Weather can Affect your Mental Health

Are you one of the many people throughout the world who are deeply affected by the weather? People who are affected in this way may have S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can affect their mental health in a variety of adverse ways.

S.A.D. symptoms in people who are affected usually run from September until April, and lowered serotonin levels can cause many symptoms, among them depression. Such depression can include feelings of lethargy and hopelessness, decreased interest in sex, social withdrawal, and suicidal thoughts.

Other symptoms include joint pain, stomach problems, low resistance to infection, behavioral problems, fatigue, and weight gain.

Those with this group of symptoms are advised to seek help from a mental health professional. Many times, S.A.D. is misdiagnosed, so it is important to get a professional opinion. There are also support groups, even online, to look into.

There are others who are not quite as attuned to the weather, although rainy or snowy weather can temporarily affect them. With these types, however, there is usually a quick return to their usual mood once the weather has cleared up. These people would not be described as suffering from weather-induced depression.

Although I personally do not suffer from S.A.D., I have a difficult time with cold weather and snow. Having lived in California for almost 20 years, I don’t find this unusual. I don’t like the cold or days when the sun is not shining.

When I moved to a southern state about a year ago, I was amazed that the weather got cold, at all, and there were actually a few days of snow.

This year, our winter appeared to be much milder, with no frigid temperatures until a few days ago, a big surprise, as we are now into March.

I have to admit to a bit of depression as a snowstorm blew in leaving five inches of snow on the ground on my birthday! Three days later, the snow is finally beginning to melt, and the temperature today is supposed to be in the fifties. By the weekend, it is supposed to get as high as 75!

The one thing I can’t grow accustomed to is the wild temperature fluctuations in this area of the country. When I lived in California, although we were at the mercy of El Ninos on occasion, we usually didn’t think much about the weather because it stayed pretty much the same. Most of the time, no one even commented on it, unlike where I live now.

I remember walking on the beach on New Year’s Day one year and being so grateful for the warm winds and bright sunshine. Also, I loved the fact that I seldom needed to wear heavy, binding clothing, and didn’t even own a winter coat.

Like it or not, weather is a big part of our lives, and all we can do is deal with it. If you find that it affects you to the point of your not being able to function well because of changes in it, you need to recognize this and see a doctor or other mental health professional who can treat you for this problem.