Friday, October 30, 2009

LBC-Weather and Emotions

There are many different studies on how weather can affect your emotions. From 1984, Howarth E and Hoffman MS  said  ten mood variables were related to eight  weather variables  in a multidimensional study. They had data collected from 24 male subjects collected over 11 consecutive days. The weather situations were hours of sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind direction, wind velocity, humidity, change in barometric pressure and absolute barometric pressure. The mood variables were concentration, cooperation, anxiety, potency, aggression, depression, sleepiness, skepticism, control and optimism.  They determined that humidity, temperature and hours of sunshine had the greatest effect on mood.  The high levels of humidity effected the scores on concentration while it increased sleepiness; whereas rising temperatures lowered anxiety and skepticism scores.

In 2009, it has been determined that there are seasonal affective disorders such as:

SAD the most severe form of seasonal/weather based emotion. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it also expresses the patients feelings who have the emotion. They exhibit signs of severe hopelessness or anxiety.  This usually is more severe in the winter months during periods when the sun rarely or never comes out. How many times has the statement "I dread the winter months!  You get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark.  It's so depressing!" been made?  Or "Winter makes me want to hibernate until Spring.  I hate the cold dark months."  The treatment, depending on the severity, is either with medication or light therapy (sitting near a light box).

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM is roughly a 24 hour cycle of living entities (Webster's dictionary). Rhythms are produced from within and can be affected by external cues, the primary one being sunlight. One of the living entities that uses circadian rhythm are butterflies.  The fall migration of the Eastern North American monarch butterfly to their wintering grounds in Mexico uses a time-compensated sun compass that depends upon a circadian clock located in their antennae!  Which lets them know it's time to head south to Mexico.  In northern Alaska, during the 82 days and nights of sunshine, it was determined the ground squirrels and porcupines maintained their circadian rhythms. Guess how?  These two small animals see that the apparent distance between the sun and the horizon is shortest once a day, and, thus, a sufficient signal to adjust by, they stayed awake during what would be daylight and went to sleep when it would usually be night, even though the sun was shining 24 hours a day!

MELATONIN & SEROTONIN-Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Your internal clock controls how much melatonin is produced by your body.  Light affects how much your body produces.  During winter when the days are shorter, your body may produce melatonin earlier or later than usual, which can lead to SAD.  There's a study going on to see if giving Melatonin to blind people  will help their internal clock, as they aren't able to see the sunlight they tend to sleep in the day and be awake at night.  Taking Melatonin also helps with jet lag and insomnia.  Serotonin is a chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another.  Serotonin levels sometimes drop during lengthy periods of cloudy days and cold weather; this leads to depression.

It's also been determined that genetics can play a part in how people are affected.  Usually SAD shows up in several members of one family.

There are some who scoff at people who say weather affects emotions and chemical imbalances.  Yet these same people wake up in the morning making such statements as "my knees are hurting, it's going to be a cold day", or "It's going to rain, my football injury is acting up!"

People with arthritis can attest to damp rainy days affecting their joints.  I had a total left knee replacement last December 2008.  I expected to feel twinges and pains on rainy days, but so far that hasn't been the case. I have less aches in that knee now than before the surgery. What will bother it is leaning against cold metal or furniture.  I haven't asked the doctor, but I wonder if the metal of the knee, even though it's surrounded by skin and muscle,  gets cold and that's what hurts.

There were even studies to show that storms affect moods, this must relate to the barometric pressure.  As the  barometer drops it becomes harder to breath, even though your subconscious is the only one to notice, therefore you become nervous and anxious.  Once that first bolt of lightning slashes across the sky and there's a resounding clap of thunder, the pressure is eased, relieving the nervousness and anxiety.

When I first saw the subject "Weather and Emotions", I thought it would be hard to write about.  The research turned into an absorbing trail.  One article led to another.  It is fascinating to realize that weather, cold, hot, dark days and sunlit days, affects the happiness and the sadness of people.  Take summer when there's a hot, humid spell, no relief in sight.  Particularly for people who live in cities.  The pavement, the cement sidewalks, even brick buildings radiate heat, waves of heat can be seen rising up.  As people move about, sweat pops out on foreheads and along the hairline of necks.  Shirts and blouses show the signs of dampness under the armpits.  Patience wears thin and tempers flare.  The hot air makes people tired, soon aggression rises.  This builds until there's an explosion of emotions.  There are verbal and physical fights, even to the point that someone is killed.

The short version of what I learned is that in the Spring people start feeling better, there's sunshine which gives people a feeling of hope that now they can go outside and play.

Flower from my front yard..

 Summer starts out fun, but it can turn into a disaster, so I recommend keeping the air conditioner in perfect working order or stay out of cities and live near the ocean or mountains where there is some semblance  of coolness.

My grandkids and daughter at the beach in Florida, you'll notice
I'm taking the picture under the unbrella!

In the Autumn, see the color of leaves as Mother Nature's way of  pushing out the remaining paint in the tubes that she's going to throw away when everything hibernates.  She doesn't want it to go to waste so there's one last explosion of color before there's the gray and dull of Winter.

Bucks Pocket, Alabama

Bucks Pocket

My niece and her children at Bucks Pocket

Hold onto that color through Winter.  Maybe get out some paints and do some personal coloring to keep that SAD feeling at bay!  Know that Spring will appear and you will forget about those cold months you've just been through! I mean, if you think about it, Winter is the shortest season compared to Spring, Summer and Fall added together.  If you do experience SAD, talk with your doctor as it isn't necessary to have that sad and hopelessness feeling. 


The Loose Bloggers Consortium, is an informal group of bloggers who post on a given topic each Friday. One topic is posted, then each member gives it their individual treatment. The current members are, in aphabetical order:


 I am finding out that this is a diversely located group, so far I've learned some are from the UK, USA, and India . If you have time and want a good read, check out the other members contributions. It always amazes me how people can see the same subject but come up with different interpretations.


Maria said...

Looks like you and I are the early birds. You really researched this fascinating theme extremely well. Years ago, I had an accident that left my left leg broken in many places. There were a number of rods and pins put in during surgery. I was living in Minnesota and I did notice that there was more pain when my leg got cold. After the pins were removed there was a marked improvement. Although my doctors poo-pooed my complaints and told me that the rods and pins would remain the same temperature as the bones etc. I was never convinced. So I think you are right about your knee.

Conrad said...

Judy, what a fantastic post!! I loved it and learned plenty.

My daughter has SAD and we have a light box. We've found that a portable lamp with a full-spectrum bulb will also do the trick - for about $200 less!

Rummuser said...

That is some research that you have done there. I have learnt some new things today. It is a difficult subject to write on as I found out when I did my post but, you have done a great job. Congratulations.

Helen McGinn said...

Snap! SAD was my take on it too; my mum suffers as well as other people I know and it can be really awful to deal with. I loved your positive outlook on it all and what can be done to help. Your photographs are beautiful too.

It is certainly hereditary, my gran suffered as does my sister. Great post, Judy, thank you! x

Grannymar said...

Gosh, you did some research Judy.

As for the weather and artificial hips, knees etc. I do know that if they are metal the recipient does feel the cold more easily. My hip is only in place a few weeks, but my brother in Melbourne and my sister in Dublin both confirm this fact!

Marianna said...

I live in Canada, which, of course, everyone knows is cold. ;)

I have metal in my foot, hips and neck and as I mentioned in my post, I have noticed a marked reduction of weather-related susceptibility. Woo Hoo!

I love your photos - even the snowy one! Reminds me of growing up!

Thanks for the in-depth treatment of this topic. Didn't know that about squirrels.

Thanks, Conrad, re. the info about the full-spectrum bulb. Will pass that one on to someone who could benefit from some light.

gaelikaa said...

Wonderful writing backed up by painstaking research. Very informative and educational. I'll come back again and study this in more detail!

sheeza said...

great work its so helpful for me and really your detailed description about SAD, emotional collision, squirrels and the transfusion of hormones in body is worth reading.