Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences, Mumbai
The Indian subcontinent lies right above the equator with the tropic of cancer stabbing right through 8 of its states. This localization on the globe, revolution of our planet around the sun and the tilt in the Earth’s axis contribute to the country getting a fair share of all seasons annually. But do these seasons contribute to something other than the scenic beauty and the annual crop yield data?
Have you ever had a feeling of lethargy and dullness as the sky is marched upon by smoky thundering clouds with the advent of rainy season? If yes, then you are not alone.
Maybe not a lot, but there are people who don’t actually enjoy the grey sky of the fall and winter. A study shows that nearly 9% of the people fall into the “rain haters” category. For the people befitting this title, days with precipitation feel less happy.
Now, one might say that it is more subjective than logical. Quite probable, but hear me out before we jump to conclusions.
As obvious as it sounds, people prefer staying indoors with minimal outdoor activities throughout the fall and winter. The streets and playgrounds are left empty. Accompanied by rain such a weather would end up confining people on their lazy asses cancelling plans, if any. A bit of exaggerated imagination, thanks to all those sad romantic playlists we all create, and there you are lying on your bed refusing to get up. In this way it can lead to sadness, and actually mirrors the effects of depression. However, not all of us think alike. One’s mood might reflect one’s subconscious beliefs towards various things. In fact, your perception towards the outer world depends on how you see yourself.
Now leaving you to categorize yourself as you please, there’s a psychological condition I must introduce based on these mood swings. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the disorder that is held responsible for causing the above mentioned seasonal “sad”ness. It is characterized by recurrent depressions that occur annually at the same time each year. People with a history of major affective disorders, such as bipolar disorder, are more prone to it.
The symptoms overlap for that of depression, including- disturbed appetite, aggressiveness, unresponsive nature, gloominess etc. To make matters interesting, the disorder is not restricted to the cold and windy months of the year. The patients can be categorized under winter-onset SAD and summer-onset SAD. Apart from the different time-zones, the symptoms in one are antagonistic to the other.
|Food craving||Poor appetite|
|Weight gain||Weight loss|
Human is a collection of cells who experiences feelings based on the varied gradients of hormones within. Serotonin is one such hormone which regulates mood, appetite, memory, sleep and sexual desire. Research shows that reduced light intensity reduces serotonin levels leading to gloominess. Melatonin (sleep hormone) is yet another one affected by reduced light. This causes a disruption in the circadian rhythm affecting the overall metabolism and mood of the individual.
A pilot study shows that frequency of SAD is more in younger adults than the older ones. With no explanation for now, another observation reveals that the disorder is diagnosed more in women.
Another interesting study shows the latitude dependence on the frequency of cases. It is more common in individuals living away from the equator.
Being a form of depression the disorder comes up with a lot of colateral damage such as obesity and many more.
Phototherapy, anti-depressants and psychotherapy are some of the treatments assigned for the patients.
This still is a fresh area for the scientific community. Overtime we would be able to make more solid conclusions regarding the behavioral pattern as per the season. If something as superficial as seasons can affect one’s feelings, there isn’t much time left before there are ways to manipulate the greater mass based on such switches. Its nothing for you to be worried though. Just enjoy the skies as you prefer, while you can.
There is a video explaining SAD attached below.