Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful: Depression & Cloudy Days


Yesterday's issue of Environmental Health has an open access article by Shia T. Kent, et al, entitled "Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study."


They looked at sunlight exposure for nearly 17,000 subjects from another depression study to determine if cognitive function was affected by gloomy days.

People with major depression were 2-1/2 times more likely to have impaired cognitive function during periods of reduced sunlight than were people without depression, independent of other factors.

I saw this first on Health Day.

13 comments:

Dinah said...

I started reading this and thought the answer had better be that sunlight helps....I keep telling my depressed patients to get outside and exercise in the sunlight. So thanks for the stats.

Aqua said...

It is baking hot in Vancouver right now, muggy and yesterday 35C/102 F)...and it is s/b hotter today!

Each day it has been hot and sunny I seem MORE depressed. I was thinking about this, because my psychiatrist recommends getting outside in the sun too.

Maybe it isn't neccesarily the cloudy days that lead to more depression, or the sun helping, but rather the not going/being outside, because right now it is too hot to get any sun in this heatwave.

Dr. Len Schwartz said...

Great study here. I believe sunlight and/or weather plays a part in cognitive function. Motivation increases with sunny weather as well. Thank you for the stats as well.

Battle Weary said...

I live in the pacific northwest...during winter months I get up a 1/2 hour early and surf the net sitting under a sunlight lamp. It really helps my mood, and I'm an honors student now as well!

Anonymous said...

+1

Rap Music said...

It was freakin hot today where i live. About maybe 105 F? Its gettin crazier and crazier.

tracy said...

i have alwasy had the tendency to like cloudy days above all others...i guess because in the sunshine, the "happy people" are out having fun. The weather seems to match my depressive disorder...maybe i need the sun, whether i want it or not!

PA word verification horses...love them!

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Katyusha said...

So THAT'S why I became severely depressed again while living in Russia over a winter. (I know. Duh.) I went for three months where days went from "black" to "dark gray" to "light gray" and back. I went to work in dark and came home in dark. (And there wasn't a light-box to be found in the whole country.)

Aqua's comment about summertime depression makes just as much sense. I've also had the experience of being depressed while living in a very unsafe neighborhood during a searing-hot summertime, so I wouldn't/couldn't leave the house unless I had to, usually with a companion. Very bad situation for depression.

Now I see my living requirements (a place where it's safe to go outside alone at any time, with some sunshine) as being a part of an antidepressant regimen.

But like the ideal diet or exercise regimen for you, you have to find these "lifestyle prescriptions" the hard way, through trial and error.

Anonymous said...

Most people I talk to actually prefer stormy weather. Personally, I get a bit of an adrenaline rush from lightning/thunder/wind. I wonder if this is common in people with atypical depression?

Mulp Edmon said...

I spy HDR.

Roy said...

Mulp Edmon (yes, that is nom de plum spelled backwards) correctly called out my use of HDR (high dynamic range) photography in the stormy cemetery photo.

This is one of my fav photo techniques, and I have a few of these on flickr. To see the best of the best on flickr, try these out.

E. Mulp said...

Misspelled, but yes. You caught me again. I'm beginning to suspect you are a computer. That one was easier though I think.

Obligatory follow-up: what equipment/software do you use?

Also, thanks for the links. I'm always looking for good instances of HDR. I think my favorite of all I've ever seen is of the inside of an A-frame with huge windows...you can see the inside nicely as well as a gorgeous sunset outside, something you'd never normally be able to achieve.