Moody? Blame it on the Weather

In a recent study, researchers from Utrecht University, Catholic University Leuven, VU University Amsterdam and Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany, collaborated to identify if particular groups of individuals are more vulnerable to weather related moods. Because of the evidence of the presence of a population segment that has seasonal mood shifts, particularly those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the team wanted to distinguish between those who exhibited symptoms of depression in the winter versus those individuals who get depressed in the summer, even if they represent a small percentage of the population.

The researchers enlisted over 400 adolescents, along with their mothers, and assessed them at six different points in time from June 2006 to November 2007. At each time point, the participants were instructed to describe their moods for five days in a row. “We focused on three distinct indicators of mood: happiness, anxiety, and anger,” said the researchers. Using the Daily Mood Scale and weather data that corresponded with the six time points, the team discovered unique things about the classification of Summer Lovers, Summer Haters and Rain Haters, as they termed them. “Interestingly, Summer Haters were more prevalent than Summer Lovers,” said the team. “They were less happy and more fearful and angry when the temperature and the percentage of sunshine were higher. With more hours of precipitation they tended to be happier and less fearful and angry.” The findings conflict with the high number of reported cases of Winter SAD compared to Summer SAD. “Therefore,” added the researchers, “one would expect a type with a pattern of weather reactivity similar to Winter SAD (i.e., Summer Lovers) to be (much) more prevalent than a type with a pattern similar to Summer SAD (i.e., Summer Haters).” They concluded, “Although the weather does not seem to matter for many of us, there are people who are in high spirits when the sun shines whereas others seem happier when it rains.”

Klimstra, T. A., Frijns, T., Keijsers, L., Denissen, J. J. A., Raaijmakers, Q. A. W., van Aken, M. A. G., Koot, H. M., van Lier, P. A. C., & Meeus, W. H. J. (2011, August 15). Come Rain or Come Shine: Individual Differences in How Weather Affects Mood. Emotion. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024649

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • sue hagan

    sue hagan

    August 21st, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Oh, I’m with these guys for sure! I detest summer. The relentless heat, the mosquitoes, the scorched yard…all of it makes me feel depressed when it gets so hot you can’t stand to be out in it for longer than ten minutes and when you are you can’t draw a breath without it being hot air. I am without doubt a Summer Hater.

  • Dani


    August 21st, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Never thought there’d be summer haters!People always like it when the tenperature’s up and the Sun is shining bright.Who are these people that hate summer?!

  • Francine H.

    Francine H.

    August 21st, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    How can you hate Summertime? All the sunshine, the beaches, the long summer nights, the golden tan. I could go on and on!

    Every year I spent my days waiting for summer to roll round so I can hit the beach every day. It’s only a half mile away and I’m there every day first thing in the morning before work and back until last thing at night right after my shift.

    Cold winter days, ugh! Who wants to see that?

  • f.d.


    August 21st, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    The long summer nights are only good if you live in a temperate climate where you can enjoy the long light nights sitting outside. Where I live you can be up at 4am and it’s still over a hundred degrees in the yard. Try suffering that when your AC goes off because the power company’s can’t handle the demand and there’s outages for hours.

    I’m not a big fan of winter either. I’d trade a longer winter for a shorter summer any day though.

  • joel.m


    August 22nd, 2011 at 3:51 AM

    mood may be affected due to the weather.but is the magnitude of the effect equal for both positive and negative effects?it would be interesting to have some knowledge on this.we can also see how easily we let an external factor affect our mood both positively and negatively.

  • Damien


    August 22nd, 2011 at 4:11 AM

    Oh gosh I am definitely not a person who gets happy when it rains.

    That makes me more depressed than almost anything in the world.

  • Lewis


    August 22nd, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Blaming our mood on the weather would not be good.I’ve seen people whose mood is the worst in the best of it’s always the person’s psyche and a host of other factors that play a role in the mood.

  • Larry


    August 22nd, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    so now what? everyone gets some kind of excuse to be moody? it is a little tiring for those of us who try to be pleasant enough to get by all of the time and always have to hear about some new crutch that someone chooses to lean on.

  • JessieHart


    August 22nd, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Who was it that said only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun? Noel Coward I think-and he was right!

    Why anyone would venture out voluntarily during the day in summer I don’t know. I only go out if I have to and that’s for necessities like doctor visits or grocery shopping. Any yard work gets done very early when the sun is only coming up or at dusk when it’s starting to set and even then not for long spells.

    Summer is depressing because it makes you feel so uncomfortable physically.

  • Jay Garrett

    Jay Garrett

    August 22nd, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    I think you have to be under twenty to appreciate summertime. :) I grew up in a house that had no air conditioning and spent long lazy vacation days lying on the floor in front of a fan. Other times we’d go out and play all day long without a thought about how hot it was and hated having to come in when it started to get dark.

    Now I’m older I’m as cranky as the next guy when we go weeks without rain, watching my veggie patch shrivel up. I’m a Summer Lover turncoat who’s now on the Hater’s side. :)

  • jacqueline


    August 22nd, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    weather can be predicted but not controlled..and we cannot let something that is not under our control be able to control our mood,is it not?

    so whenever the weather is gloomy and could make me sad,I just do something to distract myself and do things indoors.this will make me forget about the gloom outside and help me keep my spirits up.

  • teach


    August 22nd, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    I would love Winter if it wasn’t so cold LOL. I can’t stand being chilled. Its beauty does compensate for that though when it snows. There’s nothing like going walking in a fresh snowfall.

    That said, getting up to go to work in the dark and coming home in the dark does get me down the more the months drag on. I like my daylight.

  • Lizzie Hobbs

    Lizzie Hobbs

    August 22nd, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    I must say I’m nowhere near as depressed in winter as I used to be. I wouldn’t call myself a Winter Hater, perhaps a Winter Disliker. Yeah, that’s a word. ;) And no, I didn’t buy a lightbox. I got online!

    I think that the often self-imposed isolation of wintertime is what makes us increasingly depressed, and not the lack of sunlight alone. No-one wants to dig the car out of the drive to go visit friends or have to shovel snow just to run to the store for a few things.

    When we don’t, we miss that social interaction. What I love about the net is you can socialize whatever the season for as long as your connection and power will hold up. Popping into a chatroom while you’re having morning coffee along with others that are snowbound is a great way to chase the winter blues and cabin fever away.

  • jocelyn porter

    jocelyn porter

    August 22nd, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    Are there any techniques to help SAD apart from light therapy? I think I have that. Every winter I am very depressed for months. All I want to do is sleep. I don’t want to do anything or see anyone. I sleep and wait for the first signs of Spring. I don’t want to get online either. I go to work, come home and sleep.

    When I looked at the prices I knew I could not afford a lightbox. Is it worth seeing my doctor about this for alternative treatments or can I do anything else to help myself?

    I should have been born a bear… all I want to do is hibernate until it’s over.

  • Hillary R.

    Hillary R.

    August 22nd, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    @jocelyn: I know you don’t feel like it but getting out in the daylight will help you. Do you work 9-5? If you do, see if you can manage a walk outside in your lunch hour or go to a park. If that’s not possible-and I know some businesses don’t allow employees to be offsite in their lunch hour-could you perhaps work a different shift?

    The more free time you can have in the daylight hours to spend out there, the better. And do your best to socialize too when you’re out and about. I promise you the more sunshine you see, the better you will feel.

  • Nigel Moore

    Nigel Moore

    August 23rd, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    I don’t get this whole seasonal affective disorder and why some are deemed afflicted by it. Sure, it makes sense for weather you don’t like to have an effect on your mood. Doesn’t everything we dislike have the same effect though?

    I don’t like not having my coffee in the morning and that can make me moody if I’ve run out. I can’t see what makes this SAD worthy of a separate label compared to a general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with how your day goes overall.

  • Ailsa Mitchell

    Ailsa Mitchell

    August 23rd, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Good tips there, Hillary! I would still consult your doctor too,jocelyn. He may know a way to get hold of a light box for you that’s not expensive. There’s no harm in asking. :)

    I do know you need to make sure any light box you’re thinking of buying is specifically used for SAD. You can’t just pick up any old light box. The UV light levels have to be safe or they can do your eyes damage and the wrong kind won’t help at all.

    Always check the product specifications carefully or get recommendations from your doctor. You may get lucky and find your insurance would cover the cost of one anyway if you go through your doctor, so that’s another good reason to involve him. Good luck. :)

  • M.Brown


    August 23rd, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    Weather doesn’t make me depressed in the sense of affecting me due to it being summer or winter.But I dislike summer and feel jittery because of something unfortunate that happened during summer a few years ago.Maybe there are others like this who dislike a particular season due to a memory related to it.

  • Up, Down and All Around... with Jen :-)

    Up, Down and All Around... with Jen :-)

    August 23rd, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    @jocelyn – I did have SAD when I lived in the north. And for years, I stayed in bed for months at a time. Unfortunately, the light box did not work for me. And trying to get outside when I hated cold was especially difficult. But CBT did help. Please get to a therapist, because SAD IS a legitimate disorder. It is something that those who suffer with it do NOT use as a crutch or an excuse to have a bad day. It is a form of depression and is something that a person cannot control. I know how hard it can be. Please get some therapy and some help. I think people tend to forget that depression, of any form, can be terminal.

  • George A

    George A

    August 23rd, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    It is hard for me to imagine sunny weather bringing anyone down. I am the most moody and depressed when it is cold and cloudy and gloomy, not the other way around. The sunshine always gives me a boost.

  • russell


    August 24th, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    I suffer from mood issues every once in a while but I don’;t think it is because of the weather.There are a million other things that can influence my mood and blaming it on the weather certainly seems like I’m trying to shift the blame for my mood shifts.

  • Petey G.

    Petey G.

    August 25th, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    @Dani: You’re not from where I’m from. In Yuma, AZ it’s hot all the time in summer. Not enjoyable, “let’s go out for a walk in the sunshine” hot, more like “go out and get heatstroke” hot. I hate the heat and if I could I would move to the most northern reaches of Canada. I stay inside more in summer than I do in winter.

    It makes me laugh to see people talk about summer activities. Our main summer activity is sweating profusely the second we step out the door.

  • Vincent S.

    Vincent S.

    September 19th, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Well, I for one, find the summer a much happier and more enjoyable time. I don’t see how anyone thinks that cold, dark days are more uplifting than sunny and warm ones! As winter transitions into spring and the temperature begins to rise I feel like a Million Bucks. Quite literally, I will go out on the first warm day and just run, because I am so alive with energy. That opposite happens when winter comes around.

    As for rain, it all depends on who you are with. Being alone inside while it rains is miserable but add a couple of your best friends and it is bound to be a great time indoors or out.

  • Layna


    March 19th, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I think it really depends on where you live as well. Some places don’t get too hot in the summer or they are not as humid as some places. I definitel get moody in the summer because I hate to sweat! HA! But of course I live in a region where it is extremely hot and humid.

  • Darlene


    September 25th, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    I’m a summer hater. I can’t tolerate sunny days, those make me so sleepy, depressed, angry, with headache, I wear cap, sun glasses and an umbrella when walking outdoor. I avoid going out during the day. I just want to sleep all day long but when it rains I just feel AMAZING, smile all the time, makes me wake up earlier, my mood improves totally, even my memory it’s much better. I was worried about that and starting searching for this strange atitude and thought i suffered photosensitivity but it’s not the case.

  • Darlene


    September 25th, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    Also during sunny days I prompt to work at 6 or 7am when sun is not so high and leave the office by 6 or 7pm when sun is hidden.

  • Carrie


    September 6th, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    I grew up in Chicago and for about 10 years of my life I blamed winter for my depression. So, I uprooted my life and moved to FL. Guess what, I got even more depressed here. Not only did my depression worsen, but now I have extreme home sickness. I can’t stand this place at all. The constant sun, heat, bugs, humidity, traffic, tourists, etc. I am saving my $$ not for my bills and retirement, but to move the hell out of here. I learned a major lesson about the reality of my depression. It is easy to blame it on the weather, but that will solve nothing. I am treating it with therapy and medicine and not involving the weather anymore. But, I can honestly say that the heat is making me physically sick. I feel like I have a fever every single day. The sun hurts my eyes and causes sunburn on my fair skin. Most days I feel faint. I can’t tolerate it, so I must uproot my life again.

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