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Mood and Seasons

June 5, 2022

Can my mood change with the seasons?

mood and seasons

by Jamal Ross

There are a variety of situations and circumstances that can affect one’s mood. One factor that can impact someone’s mood is the weather or seasonal changes. It is possible to feel depressed during the summer or winter months. When changes in the seasons affect someone’s mood, this is called seasonal affective disorder. There are several types of season affective disorders. Let’s find out more about seasonal affective disorders and how it is treated.

The most common type of seasonal affective disorder is winter depression. Winter depression tends to begin in the fall or early winter. Typically, those with winter depression tend to sleep more, eat more and gain weight. (1) As imagined, this can have an effect on heart health as well. Symptoms of winter depression can be mild, but in severe cases, winter depression can include destressing symptoms resembling major depressive disorder and impair daily function. Usually with the end of the winter season, symptoms are improved. It is also possible to have seasonal affective disorder with bipolar type symptoms during the winter or summer months. We will discuss major depressive and bipolar disorder later.

For those with mild or moderate symptoms of winter depression, light therapy alone can help improve symptoms. Light therapy involves using a bright light source daily during a certain time of day at a certain position and distance. A 10,000 lux light box with fluorescent bulbs are recommended. Remember, incandescent light can injury the cornea and retina. The light box should be positioned facing downward. Someone should sit in front of the box at about 40-80cm, or 16-31 in, away. Bright light therapy be started early in the morning and used for approximately 30 minutes a day. It is important to be consistent with light therapy and use the light box each day. The light should be seen in the periphery. Avoid staring at the light. If this does not work, increasing bright light therapy to 45 minutes a day and adding evening bright light time can be helpful. If depressive symptoms are severe, speak with your doctor. Medications may be needed in severe cases of severe winter or summer depression. (1)

Other interventions can also help with feelings of depression during the summer and winter months, including improving sleep hygiene, or sleep patterns. It is also important to take daily walks outside, even on cloudy days. Aerobic exercise is also important. If you are taking part in light therapy during the early morning hours, take this time to begin a devotional life with God. Not only will the light therapy work, reading God’s word, knowing His promise and becoming closer to Him is impactful. Remember, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Irrespective of your feelings, emotions or life circumstance; we have a true light in Jesus that can take away depression, regardless the seasons of life, but you have to accept Him.

1. Avery D. Seasonal Affective Disorder: Treatment. In: UpToDate, Solomon D. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed June 3, 2022)

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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