Does the Weather Really Affect your Mood?

  1. I've heard about this a lot how the sun makes people happy and how cloudy and rainy days make people depressed. But I want to know if this is just a social myth or if there's any scientific grounding behind this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    There is an increase in depression during the winter in both hemispheres. The effect, which is attributed to reduced sun, is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    Sunlight contributes to photochemical reactions in the skin, and the production of Vitamin-D is one of these. Vitamin-D apparently affects hormone levels, which can affect moods.

    Diet inlcuding increase intake of foods containing Vitamin B complex, C, and D can help. Exercise is also a good way of improving one's mood.
  4. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I think it's mostly psychological. If you are brought up to believe coudy days are gloomy, then you're going to think you should feel gloomy.

    I love cloudy days. And a thunderstorm can put me in the best mood. Hot sunny days are the worst, I won't even go outside.

    Consider Eskimos and other people that live where there is six months a year with very little sun.

    Discussions of vitimin deficiencies and other factors can play a roll in depression, but are off topic from what you are asking about - just the effects of light versus dark. That is psychological.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2007
  5. Moonbear

    Moonbear 11,955
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's not necessarily true. On cloudy/rainy days, I wake up feeling pretty lousy before I even open the blinds to know what the weather is like outside. I don't think it's psychological, because I don't know what the weather is before I feel that way, but I also don't think it has to do with it being darker (it's different than SAD which is due to shortening daylengths), again because I have no way to tell it's darker until I open my blinds. In my case, at least, I think it has to do with the changes in pressure associated with the storm systems moving in (I'll also start to feel headachy/hazy a few hours before a storm comes in, and even while the storm is still ongoing, will already start feeling better). Most people around me have reported similar symptoms on the same days.
  6. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I've heard of people being sensitive to barometric pressure. I used to have an odd effect from drops in barometric pressure in my teens. I haven't noticed it in years though.

    I would still say that looking out at a bright sunny day or a cloudy sky and letting that affect your mood is psychological. It's what you are conditioned to associate with light or dark. (can you tell my little sister is a psychologist?)
  7. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    That may be a reaction in the sinuses. My wife experiences the same thing as Moonbear describes, and it's particularly bad when a frontal system move through.

    I myself prefer to be outdoors, and I enjoy the sun rather than being indoors. I like thunderstorms and cool weather.

    Eskimos have adapted to their environment, and their diet is part of that.

    Certainly there psychological (cognitive) as well as physiological aspects to this matter.
  8. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Hi Far Star, articles don't have to be peer reviewed, especially outside of the pure physics forums. We just want to make sure that credible sources are cited.

    This is interesting
    I wonder if this is hot, *sunny* days? Usually cloudy days aren't as hot as sunny ones. I wish I had access to the entire paper. Of course it is no secret that I hate hot, sunny days. :biggrin: I do recall other studies of increased violence during summertime. Yep, here we go.

    Comments like this just make me shake my head
  9. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Yep, that was often mentioned in Houston, and IIRC in many other metropolitan areas, during the summer months. When it's cold, people prefer to be in doors.
  10. Thanks for the clarification, Evo.

    The field of Biometeorology is one of the more interesting when it comes to research into behavior and disease. I remember some interest many years ago about radiative transfer and "sundown" syndrome. I'm not sure whether anyone followed up with an actual study.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007
  11. well sometimes i dont even have an effect of how i feel after i wake up when i dont know the weather. it has come to my attention that the weather don't have as noticable effect on my mood
  12. well after reading that most of these things "are not necessarily true"
    could there be a possible correct answer for this topic?
  13. somasimple

    somasimple 716
    Gold Member

    Emotion. 2008 Oct;8(5):662-7.

    The effects of weather on daily mood: a multilevel approach.

    Denissen JJ, Butalid L, Penke L, van Aken MA.

    Personality Development, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.

    The present study examines the effects of six weather parameters (temperature, wind power, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure, and photoperiod) on mood (positive affect, negative affect, and tiredness). Data were gathered from an online diary study (N = 1,233), linked to weather station data, and analyzed by means of multilevel analysis. Multivariate and univariate analyses enabled distinction between unique and shared effects. The results revealed main effects of temperature, wind power, and sunlight on negative affect. Sunlight had a main effect on tiredness and mediated the effects of precipitation and air pressure on tiredness. In terms of explained variance, however, the average effect of weather on mood was only small, though significant random variation was found across individuals, especially regarding the effect of photoperiod. However, these individual differences in weather sensitivity could not be explained by the Five Factor Model personality traits, gender, or age. (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved

    PMID: 18837616 [PubMed - in process]
  14. while it might state that it was days of summer that may have an increase of violence its a known effort by scientists to prove that violence, murders, and such are predominately occuring in times that are on days in which there is a new moon or full moon. Lunar phases are known to effect the weather and tides. the only reason this hasnt been accepted as more than just a theory is the reasoning that crime suspects will use this as a means to get out of a trial with murder for blaming it on the moon.

    i personally believe the reasoning for feeling under-the-weather, or gloom, when its rainy or sunny is not because what you're used to or how its a systematic underground perception of how if it rains then its a bad day, i believe the phases of the moon cause the weather as well as a metabolic imbalance or bad equillibrium due to the change in the phases.

    it causes changes with moods, ovulation time periods, and hysteria.

    p.s. i hate the heat too, i personally prefer autumn.
  15. Yeah the moon plays a big role in weather, especially when the moon is retrograde with Uranus.
  16. a change in barometric pressure can certainly affect pressure in the sinuses, which absolutely affects my mood. maybe something from higher O2 concentration at higher pressure, too?
  17. It does for me!!

    Sunny - I'm happy

    Cloudy - Im bored

    Thunderstorms - Im frisky.

    Im not kidding about storms, they seriously turn me on. May god give strength to my next girlfriend who happens to be with me during a storm
  18. I think both ..
    I mean ..Physiological changes could happen ..& there are Psychological changes too..
    & the theory of Full Moon is famous enough (the Tides effects on the Blood circulation that make the human being worry & nervous )
    & it depends on your mood too ..for me ,I solve biology H.W with rain ..maths questions with storms ..physics questions with cloud .. & read technological books when it is sunny ......!!!!

    you see is your brain & how you control your own body ..!!! :approve:

    Rates of melatonin metabolism are affected by exposure to sunlight.

    Melatonin regulates circadian rhythms. Furthermore, waether is likely to have effects on the immune system (although this relationship is complex and highly individualized), which via indolamine 2-3 dioxygenase has direct effects on tryptamine metabolism ( as well as many indirect effects on mood).

    Sunlight exposure also effects tyrosine metabolism (tyrosine is the first metabolic precursos to dopamine)

    As was mentioned, sunlight also stimulates the production of vitamin D, which has many metabolic effects, including immunoregulation, effects on tyrosine hydroxalase, as well as (highly suspected, but as far as I know, not directly proven)boosting serotonin metabolism.

    So yes, weather definetly impacts your mood, although the picture is complex and likely dependent on a lot of individual variables.
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