“Blues on a rainy day.” “Upbeat attitude.” “A thunderous face.” A little under the weather. The numerous ways weather can impact mood, vitality, and even mental functioning are frequently acknowledged in English.
The relationship between you and the environment is probably not as straightforward as “cold = bad” or “warm = nice.”
If you reside in a desert region, a fantastic, windy day might be a welcome change of scenery. Similar to how biking or walking to work could feel downright terrible during the summer’s hot, muggy days.
How the weather affects you also heavily depends on personal preference. People often fall into one of four types, according to earlier research from 2011, which included 497 teenagers and their mothers:
- Lover of the summer: Sunny, warm days make you feel better.
- Those of you who despise the summer: Sunny, warm days make you feel down.
- Rain haters: Rainy days make you feel less happy.
- Unaffected: Your mood isn’t greatly impacted by the weather.
Despite individual variances, there are a few key ways that climate and environment do impact people. Continue reading to find out who might be most vulnerable to weather changes, how the weather might affect your emotions, and how climate change may affect your mental health.
Your body typically responds to cold weather by slowing down and “hibernating,” which causes you to have less energy during the winter. Your energy and attitude can both be improved by warmer weather, but only up to a threshold of 70°F (21°C). You can then start to feel worn out and want to get out of the heat.
Sunlight has an effect on your energy levels as well. Light instructs your circadian clock to stay awake, while darkness instructs your brain to go to sleep. In other words, long, sunny days might make you feel energized. However, there is less light on short or overcast days to keep you awake, so you can feel sleepier than usual.
If you’ve ever felt jittery or nervous before a storm, it was probably just your body alerting you to a reduction in air pressure. According to a 2019 study on animals, changes in air pressure may cause your brain’s superior vestibular nucleus (SVN), which regulates balance and perception, to become active. Although mice were used in this investigation, SVNs also exist in people.
According to the study’s authors, SVN may agitate your body’s stress response prior to a storm, putting you on edge. Circulating stress hormones may also make your nerve endings more sensitive, which may be why some people have flare-ups of chronic pain during periods of low air pressure.
Stress levels may also rise as a result of high temperatures. Older studies indicate that during hotter months, people tend to become more irritable or even hostile.
Capacity to reason clearly and make wise conclusions
People also seem to be more accepting of financial risk when the weather is warm. The weather might be a factor if you tend to invest or buy things on impulse more frequently in the summer.
It’s important to note that these effects only manifest themselves when you step outside. On a sunny day, simply gazing out the window probably won’t have much of an effect. In warm, sunny weather, it’s possible that:
- improving memory.
- making you more receptive to fresh knowledge
- If you have ADHD, work on improving your inattention.
Who is most susceptible to weather changes?
Many people’s relationship between the weather and their physical and emotional well-being is negligible. However, weather changes can result in symptoms like these for the 30% of persons who have meteoropathy:
- having difficulties focusing
- discomfort near previous wounds or scars.
Meteorology isn’t a disease in and of itself, but it can exacerbate mental health issues. The following conditions are also recognized to be affected by the weather:
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern, describes depression symptoms that only manifest at specific seasons of the year.
During the fall and winter, most persons with this kind of depression have symptoms including melancholy, tiredness, and increased hunger, but not during the spring and summer.
But in some cases, the symptoms of seasonal depression take the reverse course: they are brought on by the bright, sunny spring and summer months and relieved by the cooler winter months. Symptoms of spring or summer depression can include anxiety, sleeplessness, poor appetite, and a depressed mood.
About 1 in 4 bipolar patients claim that their mood disorders follow a seasonal pattern. The main connection between seasonality and bipolar symptoms appears to be temperature.
While research findings can vary, there is some broad agreement that periods of mania and depression are more common in the spring and summer and respectively.
Additionally, according to research from 2020, bipolar disorder sufferers who have made suicide attempts in the past tend to be more sensitive to the weather and experience more severe meteoropathy symptoms. On screening tests for meteoropathy, participants who had made more suicide attempts performed better.
Unusual weather conditions
Temperatures are simply one aspect of climate change. The frequency of extreme weather events (EWEs), such as floods, storms, and wildfires, has also grown. Events like these might greatly disturb your life and even result in mental health issues.
A 2020 review that included 17 studies with participants who had a EWE within the previous year found,
- 19.8% of the individuals reported having anxious symptoms.
- Indicators of depression were present in 21.4% of the subjects.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms were seen in 30.4% of the subjects (PTSD).
Hearing about EWEs might cause anxiety in even those who are not directly exposed to them. Some people may experience eco-anxiety, a feeling of fear and helplessness brought on by the existential threat posed by climate change. Eco-anxiety has increased as climate change has speeded up, particularly among younger generations who will have to deal with the long-term implications.
How to tackle
Although you cannot control the weather, you may take measures to lessen its negative effects on your health. If you believe you may be weather-sensitive, take into account these suggestions:
- So that you can monitor how various weather patterns influence you, keep a mood journal.
- Keep an eye on the weather prediction so you can plan low-stress activities for challenging days.
- When it’s cold outside, stay indoors. You might wish to go to the closest emergency warming or cooling center if your house doesn’t have heating or air conditioning.
However, if the weather seems to be having a consistently negative effect on your mood, it never hurts to speak with a medical expert. They can aid in ruling out any underlying illnesses and provide additional direction on available treatments.
You might wish to get in touch with a professional for extra support if any mental health symptoms you have do persist for longer than a day or two or prevent you from doing the activities you normally would.
While many people’s mood, energy, and cognition are only slightly impacted by the weather, about one-third of people are extremely sensitive to changes in the atmosphere.
In addition, as extreme weather events have become more frequent as a result of climate change, more people are now at risk for developing PTSD, depression, and anxiety as a result of natural disasters.
On a personal level, working with a therapist to address your symptoms can be beneficial, but widespread initiatives to battle climate change may be more effective at preventing weather-related traumas from occurring in the first place.