The most powerful attribute the human species has developed is the power to adapt and evolve to their surroundings. Depending on where you are in the world, some places are cold and some are hot. Human beings have learned to adapt and shape their culture around their environment. But what if the environment plays a primary role that kick starts both the biology and psychology of the human being? Is it possible the very weather and temperature can be a main cause and effect to some clinical disorders such as clinical depression that leads to disastrous results such as suicide?
If you ask a child in kindergarten to draw two pictures – one on a rainy day and the other on a sunny day, there’s an interesting point. The picture with rain falling all over the place has the stick-man figure ‘frowning’ usually holding an umbrella where as the picture with the sunny day has the stick figure man with a big smile and if that’s not enough, the child will also put the pet dogs and cats with big smiles.
So what’s this? Is it safe to label this as some sort of archetype? A child in kindergarten who barely has an idea of the basics has already projected his emotions unto his drawing paper. The rain is sadness and sunshine is happiness is more poetic and metaphorical than it is scientific but there are keys to the reality it plays.
A study in 2008 by a group of European researchers eXamined the impact of six different weather factors – temperature, wind, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure and the length of day on more than 1200 subjects in which most of them were women. The study showed that a boost of mood was minimal but the degradation of mood was major, with many going as far as suffering from episodic depression to others feeling ‘tired or sluggish’.
It is important to note that some people’s emotions are simply more vulnerable to the weather and its changes than others since every human being is unique in his or her own way. Someone who is prone to a negative mood on dark cold days will be going through a very depressive winter when there’s lack of sunlight and long nights. This is the basis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
So where does the biology play a part? Surely the weather doesn’t have magical properties. Research in Seasonal Affective Disorder whereby the brain’s response was studied has shown that hormones play a big role in the change of mood. When our eyes detect darkness, a small glad in the brain known as the pineal releases melatonin which is a leading serum in establishing sleep cycles. When we detect light, melatonin produces its friendly subside known as serotonin. Serotonin helps in boosting aliveness and happiness which promotes mood positively.
Therefore if you look into suicide and depression, you’ll find out study shows there is a positive correlation between depression and suicide and weather. In Africa, even the most poverty stricken places, there is a minimal and tiny amount of suicide listings. However in Winter Europe, basic problems are exaggerated into levels of clinical depression.
In conclusion, what affects your biology will also affect your psychology. The best way to counter these symptoms is mind over matter. One should get off the computer and get out in the sun to get as much sunlight as possible. It is also advised to engage in sports and other health activities to keep the body and mind vigorous and working. Even reading a novel is preferred than to sitting around.