A long, dark winter can be mentally and physically exhausting, but recent research challenges the idea that it makes people depressed.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is commonly believed to affect a significant portion of people during the darker winter months, but research published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science could not prove a link.
SAD is based on the theory that some depressions occur in response to reduced sunlight. Steven LoBello, a psychology professor at Auburn University at Montgomery in the US, says his team examined the relationship between depression and latitude. Data was taken across the four seasons “to see if there was an association with sunlight. We simply didn’t find a direct relationship with [depression] and sunlight, the seasons or latitude,” Lobello says.
Depression is episodic and people do have depressive episodes in autumn or winter. But, researchers argue, “being depressed during winter is not evidence that one is depressed because of winter”.
Whatever the cause, visit your GP if you have concerns about how you are feeling. Visit beyondblue.org.au for support or more information.