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What causes your mood to change in bad weather?

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Some students might feel especially depressed and moody during certain times of the year. They’re drained of energy and feel like everything takes more effort than usual. The reason? They might have seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. SAD is a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons of the year.

Typically individuals experience symptoms such as moodiness and exhaustion most days, starting around late fall to the winter, and they get better with the warmer, sunnier months. A smaller number of people suffer symptoms in the spring and summer.

Signs & Symptoms

These are some of the signs and symptoms of SAD:

• Depression
• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Loss of energy
• Changes in appetite or sleep
• Weight gain or loss
• Hopelessness
• Trouble concentrating

Although most individuals have feelings of being worn-out and as if they’re stuck in slow motion, some individuals experience symptoms of mania. In these cases, they are revved-up or intensely irritable. Other symptoms of mania include: little sleep with lots of energy, restlessness, racing thoughts and excitability.

Causes

As with most health and mental health conditions, there are a variety of causes. While experts haven’t been able to pinpoint or confirm all contributing factors, they do have several hypotheses about how SAD develops:

• A disruption in circadian rhythms, which is your internal clock for sleep and waking.
• Reduced melatonin, which also helps to regulate mood and sleep.
• Reduced serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls mood. Less sunlight can shrink serotonin levels, which might lead to depressed mood.
• Family history of SAD or depression might be a risk factor.