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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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