Can Seasons Affect Your Mental Health?

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Have you ever noticed that you feel moodier when it’s raining outside? Or do some of your friends find themselves in ‘winter blues’ in chillier seasons?

Indeed, the seasons change — and your hormone fluctuations, as a result, — might affect mental health.

So, what’s going on with your mental state when the Earth revolves around the Sun? Here are some insights on how seasons might influence your mental health.

Winter

Studies show that winter might be the worst season for our mental health. As days become shorter, we get less sunlight. As a result, serotonin, a hormone associated with happiness, goes down.

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Even there exists a winter-pattern seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression, making people feel more depressed and lose interest in their daily routine.

Also, when it’s cold outside, people stay home more and detach from their everyday activities, risking feeling blue.

Spring

As everything starts to blossom in spring, so does our mood. As daylight hours gradually increase, we get a boost in energy levels.

However, some research shows that SAD, which usually starts in fall, might peak during the spring months.

Ten percent of people with SAD experience moody symptoms in spring: They feel more melancholic as it becomes warmer outside. Also, scientists say that any changes in circadian rhythms might make us more anxious.

Summer

We get more vitamin D when there is more sunlight. It makes us more energetic and happier. Sun increases serotonin levels, which boosts our mood and helps us sleep better at night. Healthy sleep lowers stress levels and makes us calmer and more focused.

However, extreme heat might increase irritability and symptoms of depression.

A man looking out of the window and feeling down due to seasonal affective disorder

Fall

SAD usually occurs during the fall and might last for the winter months. Access to sunlight decreases, and your vitamin D and serotonin levels minimize drastically. It may cause feelings of fatigue, sadness, and lack of energy.

There are several things you can do to help yourself survive during any season.

  • Exercise regularly. A 30-minute workout can boost your endorphin levels which will make you happier and help you reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep. Getting 7–9 hours of sleep will help your body recover and restore your energy levels.
  • Take supplements. As vitamin D drops during the winter, you can take additional vitamin D from foods or supplements. If the deficiency is critical, it’s worth consulting your physician for medications.
  • Eat healthy food. Fruits and veggies are rich in micronutrients and vitamins, so they can regulate your feelings and control your mood swings.
  • Get outside. Even in winter, you can get your portion of sunlight walking out during the day.
  • Stick to the schedule. Daily habits and structure can improve your focus and productivity and reduce stress and anxiety.
November 8, 2022