Snow’s Effect on Mood

We’ve all heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) an annual mood shift that affects some people during the winter months. Intuitively we know that weather impacts our mood. Following long, dark, dreary days, suddenly, the sun emerges and we feel good and likely smile and have a sense of being reinvigorated.

Neurotransmitters affect mood. See, The Neuroscience Behind Your Mood: Neurotransmitter Switching in the Adult Brain:

For many of us, our mood changes with the outside environment. When it rains, we tend to feel “sad”, and perhaps somewhat lonely. When it is sunny, we feel happier and more jubilant inside. Some people feel more comfortable in daylight, while others prefer the quiet darkness at night. What exactly is happening to our brain that leads us to feel a certain way in different environmental situations? A recent finding by Davide Dulcis and others published in the internationally renowned Science magazine may help to elucidate this interesting phenomenon.

http://nhsjs.com/2013/the-neuroscience-behind-your-mood-neurotransmitter-switching-in-the-adult-brain/

Weather triggers health conditions: many of my patients who have sustained injuries experience increased pain when it is cold or humid; the increased pain exacerbates a mood disorder.

Other medical conditions are impacted — positively and negatively — by weather.

Weather affects pain. See:

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/weather_and_pain

One study examined the relationship between weather and arthritis pain in 151 people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/93858.php

Many of my chronic pain patients report that they feel better in dryer, warmer geographic locations like Arizona. See:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5251241_climate-fibromyalgia_.html

Weather can aggravate asthma: cold air, wind and rain, heat, lightning, and air pressure fluctuations. See:

http://www.everydayhealth.com/asthma/how-weather-affects-asthma.aspx  

What about snow? Do you remember how you felt:

  • Waking up to snow and finding out you did not have to go to school?
  • Making a snowman?
  • Having a snowball fight?
  • Watching kids smile as they went down hills on sleds?
  • Making snow angels?

And the “dark side” of snow:

  • Seeing your car buried in snow.
  • Thinking about all the shoveling you have to do.
  • Taking way longer getting to work.
  • Damaging your car because of the snow.
  • Being stranded.
  • Slipping on snow or ice.
  • Cabin fever being stuck at home.

I couldn’t find a direct link between snow per se and mood. So I think it’s subjective and context-related.

Words like “brutal snowstorm” create a negative connotation; especially when associated with the words, “Northeast digs out.”

But when I went to into my backyard after clearing a small path, and watched as my Toy Yorkie, Pumpkin, disappeared in the snow and emerged barking joyfully, I saw a winter wonderland. And I couldn’t help but “disappear” somewhat into the images, awed by the splendor of Mother Nature. From my backyard:

doc

My driveway was shoveled; now, off to clean the cars…

 

Roy

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