Rainy Day Mood: Why You May Feel Sad When It Rains

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

How do you usually feel on a dark rainy day?

For lots of people, rain makes them sad, tired, or sleepy. It even causes headaches for some people.

Is a “rainy day mood” a real thing, or is it all in our heads? Let’s find out.

Does rainy weather affect mood?

Some researchers say that weather has very little effect on mood and that cultural associations are mostly what cause weather conditions to make us feel happy or sad.

However, other research shows that weather factors like temperature, air humidity, atmospheric pressure, and the amount of sunshine do affect people’s mood.

For example, one study showed that pleasant weather in the spring improved participants’ mood and memory, and hot summer weather led to a lower mood.

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Another study suggests that our brains make more serotonin on sunny days. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood and emotions. Low serotonin levels can lead to depression and anxiety, which could explain why many people feel down on overcast rainy days.

Can rain intensify depression?

Depression is a complex mental health condition that’s influenced by a lot of factors, including weather and seasonal changes.

One type of depression that has a clear seasonal pattern is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Most people who have SAD develop depressive symptoms in the fall and winter months, when days are short and dark.

A woman sitting in bed with a cup of tea on a dark rainy day

A study conducted in Iran showed that depression was more prevalent in parts of the country where cold and rainy weather was more common.

So rainy weather could indeed make depressive symptoms worse. If you notice that your mental health doesn’t respond well to rainy weather, don’t hesitate to talk to a trusted health care professional.

Why you may feel sick when it rains

Do rainy days give you head-splitting migraines? Do your knees get stiff and achy before a storm? Or do your allergies get worse after a rainy day?

If so, you’re not alone. Rainy weather brings about rapid changes in temperature, air humidity, and atmospheric pressure. These changes can trigger headaches and joint pain.

What does rain have to do with allergies? Well, pollen counts can rise sharply a day or two after it rains because rain makes plants grow faster. Rain drops can also break pollen into smaller particles, making them disperse more quickly. So if you’re allergic to pollen, your symptoms can worsen significantly.

If you have a mold allergy, rain can make you feel sick because mold loves humid weather and starts producing more spores.

If you have a health condition that becomes worse when it rains, ask your doctor for ways to manage it. They may suggest simple home remedies (like keeping your achy joints warm) or prescribe medications.

Are some people more productive when it rains?

While rain can have negative effects on mood, one study showed that people tend to be more productive on rainy days. One possible explanation is that people get distracted by thoughts of going outside on sunny days.

On the other hand, a survey of 6,000 people conducted by CareerBuilder.com showed that 1 in 10 respondents felt less productive in gloomy weather.

So yes, some people are more productive on rainy days, while others may not even want to get out of bed when it rains.

What are pluviophiles?

A pluviophile is someone who loves rain.

Pluviophiles enjoy overcast skies, the sound of rain, and the smell of moist soil. Some even love walking or playing in the rain!

Why do pluviophiles love rain so much?

There’s no clear explanation, but it might be that rain simply triggers happy memories.

There’s nothing inherently good or bad about being a pluviophile. It’s just a preference, not a personality type or a health issue.

How to counteract rainy weather if it makes you moody

If rainy weather makes you feel down, you can try these actionable tips to counteract its effects.

Turn on the lights

When you’re feeling down on a dark rainy day, fight against the darkness and turn on the lights. Light has the power to affect people’s mood. If you have smart LED lights, you can experiment with different colors and intensities. For example, bright bluish light can energize you, and muted orange-yellow light can help you relax.

You can also get a special lamp that imitates sunlight. These lamps are a useful tool for treating depression and sleep disorders.

A woman with a transparent umbrella feeling sad in the rain

Go outside

Leaving home on a rainy day might sound like a terrible idea, but spending some time outdoors can improve your mood. Natural light has many benefits for your physical and mental health:

  • It keeps seasonal affective disorder at bay.
  • It helps you sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
  • It gives you a break from fluorescent lights, which can cause headaches.
  • Your body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D. This vitamin helps your body fight off diseases, maintain strong bones, and regulate mood.

Do something that makes you feel good

Even the darkest, rainiest days become more agreeable if you’ve got a good book, a fun movie, a great tabletop game, or a cozy sweater to knit. No matter whether you’re into baking cupcakes, drawing, or dancing in front of the TV, enjoying your hobby can reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.

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Exercise

Don’t worry — we’re not suggesting that you go jog in the rain. However, regular exercise can reduce depressive symptoms and improve mood.

Sometimes, you’re not in the mood for a full-blown workout. That’s okay. Try doing some simple stretches or following a short online workout video. It won’t drain your energy but can definitely raise your spirits.

Reach out to other people

Staying home when it’s raining doesn’t need to be lonely. Doing fun things with your family or friends can cheer you up no matter how terrible the weather gets. You can also call a friend or chat with someone online.

Talk to a mental health professional

If nothing helps and you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, sadness, or anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. They can suggest a treatment option that’s right for you.

Key takeaways

Rain can affect people’s mood in different ways. Some people actually love rainy weather. Others may feel a bit sad when it’s raining. And some people can even develop depressive symptoms in the cold and rainy seasons.

If rainy weather makes you feel down, you can counteract its effects by turning on the lights, going outside (just don’t forget your umbrella!), exercising, or doing things that make you feel good.

Rain causes changes in air pressure and humidity, and these changes can trigger headaches and make certain health conditions (like allergies and joint pain) worse. It’s important that you stay in touch with your doctor so that they can adjust your treatment if necessary.

If you feel that rainy weather takes a serious toll on your mental health, contact a professional who can get you the help you need.

October 4, 2022