Our mood is affected by many different environmental elements, including the current weather conditions. You may have noticed yourself the extra pep in your step when the sun is shining bright and the contrasting way that darker days might make you feel down. These minor mood shifts can make an impact on larger issues of mental health. And more extreme weather conditions can have more extreme effects, with occurrences such as storms, tornados, and earthquakes causing anxiety and even PTSD.
Happy Sunny Days
Weather’s impact on mental health isn’t all negative. The sun’s bright rays really can brighten our moods. People with an anxiety disorder or depression may even find their symptoms decreased from some quality time in the sun. To make sure to receive this positive impact on mental health, find time to enjoy sunny days. Even though we’re all busy, it’s worth the effort to schedule in a walk in the sun or to enjoy lunch outside, under those rays.
Dreary Dark Days
It’s important to enjoy the sun while you can, because when winter begins, its dark days can provide the opposite effect, leaving many people feeling down. Not everyone gets the winter blues, but those that do find their mood worsening on cold, dreary days. Without as much sun to make us feel alive, winter can make some people want to curl up and hibernate. It’s normal for these colder days to make you feel tired and even a little gloomy. If these effects are getting to your mental health, remember to practice self-care and get the support you need for any conditions worsened by the dreary weather.
If you just can’t shake off a depressed mood through the winter months and it’s affecting every part of your life, it may be seasonal affective disorder. People with SAD find a strong connection between their mental health and the weather. The depression they suffer is triggered specifically by the darker days of winter, while with the coming of springtime, they feel better. Just because sunnier months offer relief though doesn’t mean that seasonal affective disorder should be dismissed. Anyone suffering depression, no matter which months it occurs, should find support and treatment. Often, treatment includes the introduction of light similar to sunlight. Someone with SAD might put their bedroom lights on a timer to mimic the sunrise and combat the seasonal depression.
Effects of Extreme Weather
With harsher weather conditions, there are more extreme effects on mental health. Events such as hurricanes and wildfires are extremely stressful when they occur. When experiencing a natural disaster, there is a lot of uncertainty. People worry if their homes will be damaged as well as if they or their family will be hurt. The damage these effects cause is not just physical, and many people’s mental health suffers after the storm has receded. After the stress of flooding, an earthquake, or another extreme weather event, people are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Some may even suffer PTSD after such a traumatic weather event.
While post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly associated with veterans and their experiences of war, anybody can develop the disorder after a highly-stressful event. Extreme weather events present a threat that many people can have trouble psychologically recovering from. Among other issues of anxiety and depression, PTSD has been observed in those affected by heat waves, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Though the focus often rests on the physical damage of these events, the stress can cause lasting effects on mental health.
Even years after an extreme weather occurrence, people can struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD as a result. It may help to limit the effects of the disaster if you limit exposure to the event’s coverage. An overdose of upsetting news only increases stress. After the storm has ended, it can also help to participate in the action of rebuilding and recovery. Volunteering can be a very positive experience because it offers a sense of purpose after the uncertainty of an uncontrollable event and also allows for participation in the community and the sense of belonging that comes along with it. If you still struggle after an extreme weather event, you may want to seek additional support. A mental health professional can help with the persisting effects of a natural disaster.
From the joy that a bright and sunny day can bring to the gloomier mood brought out by dark skies and the harsher damage of more intense situations, weather conditions can really make an impact on our mental health. No matter what the forecast is, it’s always important to keep our mental health in check. The focus of the ADHD Wellness Center is on ADHD, but we offer mental health support and resources to anyone in need of them. For help with a stormy mental health situation, give the ADHD Wellness Center a call today!