For many, the winter season is one of the most depressing due to the cold weather and post-holiday sadness. However, some researchers believe it isn’t entirely the season’s fault and other objects may be in motion than just winter itself.
“While rates of major depression are marked by sadness, insomnia, loss of hope or loss of interest, these marks do not change from one season to the next among U.S citizens,” said Psychologist Steven LoBello of Auburn University.
In a new study, roughly thirty thousand U.S. adults were observed to see if there was spike in fall or winter seasonal depression. However, Lobello and two other colleagues from Auburn, Megan Traffanstedt and Sheila Mehta, have an issue with this way of observing participants.
“It’s becomes difficult to justify current psychiatric diagnosis of major depression with a seasonal pattern,” said Lobello. Both Traffanstedt and Mehta agreed. “Due to it being a reoccurring disorder, it can happen in two consecutive winters by chance. And, in three or more consecutive winters, be due to socializing and more personal factors unrelated to shorted days.”
There have been other studies that focus on a variety of age ranges including the elderly, teenagers, and children in both Europe and the United States. The studies, also, found no tendency in the rise of depression rates during winter or any other season.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a term that is related to the depression disorders that occur in the months of winter.
Lobello and his team devised another way of finding out more on SAD patterns by surveying 34,294 U.S. adults by phone in 2006. The surveys consisted of a questionnaire that focused completely on major depression and its symptoms. The participant callers would recall the number of days in the past two weeks they had experienced the symptoms asked. Lobello’s team conducted more phone surveys with other individuals during the winter months as they had previously during non-winter months. When the data was analyzed, there seemed to be no specific spike or decline in the ratio of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sunlight was also taken into effect since past studies have also looked into this and have believed that light affects one’s mood. Though the new study found no change in depression with individuals in bright lit areas and dark lit areas, other studies have more proof that light in fact does change mood. Such as when some individuals get depressed when it rains outside and sunlight isn’t constant.
In the case of whether or not the winter season makes people depressed, it is found that there is truly no change due to season. While students around campus might be more depressed around this time of year, the depression is more than likely caused by an outside source rather than the season itself.