People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) aren't the only ones who feel down come January. Scientific evidence now proves that most people's moods dip when the weather turns chilly.
Morton Harmatz, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has found that most people are more depressed, hostile, angry, irritable and anxious in winter than in summer. This depression isn't as serious as that of SAD sufferers, says Harmatz. Still, he says, his work "will help people understand why they have mood shifts in winter." Harmatz believes that our seasonal slump may be due in part to the lack of light in colder months. Light seems to function as a natural antidepressant, though scientists aren't exactly sure how. Accordingly, light therapy, a new treatment increasingly being prescribed for clinical depression and jet lag, may be one useful solution for a mild case of the blues. Says Harmatz: "Clinical research suggests that it works."