News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 7, 2013

Weather greatly impacts moods, social worker says

Tribune-Star staff report
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Too much rain and cloudy weather, and not enough sunshine, can have a significant impact on a person’s mood, says Emily Owens, director of Vigo County Services at Hamilton Center and a licensed clinical social worker.

“Some of the research shows weather has little effect on mood, but the majority suggests a strong link,” she said.

Pleasant weather — sunny and not too hot or too cold — is related to a better mood, better memory and cognition.

In spring, more people are getting outside, and that’s also a time when people’s moods are better, research shows, she said.

A lot of cloudy, rainy weather can lead to irritability and a slightly depressed mood, she said. If it becomes serious, that can lead to seasonal affective disorder — feelings of sadness and depression that usually occur in winter months, when temperatures drop and days are shorter.

To counteract mild depression or moodiness that can accompany long periods of rainy, cloudy weather, Owens has some suggestions.

“Find something you are interested in, anything in the community, or take up a new hobby. Exercise is always a natural mood booster,” she said.

Also, “Spend time with family and friends as much as possible,” she said.

For those who are isolated, inclement weather can compound those feelings of isolation and moodiness for them because they may not be outdoors as much. It’s important to “get out and connect with people,” Owens said.