It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year..But not for Everyone

Whenever I think about the winter holiday season, I instantly get excited. Christmastime, no school, and quality time with my family, what could be better? Since this time of the year is so upbeat and magical, I figured it would directly play a part in reducing seasonal depression. But instead, many studies have shown that the winter brings about seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.
Every case is different, but seasonal affective disorder during the holiday season can have to do with a number of things including stress, fatigue, or unrealistic expectations. What is interesting about this specific disorder is that it only occurs during the winter months, and people who suffer from SAD tend to be okay during other seasons. How can people be so sad in winter months but so full of life in all of the other seasons?
A 2008 study by Jaap Denissen shows that there is a significant association between sunlight and tiredness, which can then affect someone's mood. He states that it is not the weather that affects one's mood, but rather the lack of energy. As winter approaches and hours of sunlight decrease, so does one's energy level, which can then lead to a change in mood or behavior.
Although this is a unique study, I believe it makes sense. SAD is less common in countries near to the equator where the hours of sunlight are more constant and bright throughout the year, which directly correlates with Denissen's ideas. In addition, SAD is less common in the summertime, where there is clearly more sunlight. Because of the ideas of this study, I would recommend looking at bright lights in order to try and feel happier during winter months. Maybe looking at Christmas lights will reduce depression as well.
Works Cited:

"Holiday Depression and Stress Symptoms, Causes, Treatment - What Are Symptoms and Signs of Holiday Depression and Stress? - MedicineNet." MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <>

"United States." AccuWeather. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. <>


Hey Sarah!

This is very interesting topic for a blog. I've actually already heard of studies linking mood to the amount of light present because apparently it affects serotonin production. However, I think you left a very important conclusion that the study drew out of your post. In Dennissen's study, it was found that "weather fluctuations accounted for very little variance in people's day-to-day mood". In my opinion, thats a bigger finding that the connection between sunlight and happiness. Many people that I know claim that they feel sadder on rainy days and when the weather is crappy.

I also feel like there are way too many possible confounding variables to take the findings of this study too seriously. For example, people may feeler sadder around the holiday season because they on average consume more food, get less exercise, or have to spend a lot of money of gifts.

Heres an actual article from Web MD about how food affects people's mood:

While I haven't felt as if I have SAD, I have noticed that I get more tired in the winter, and I have always felt that it was lack of sunlight. Similarly, I have noticed that I crave more carbs and starchy food in the winter, like mac n cheese, bagels, and things of that nature. According to the following article, there is a fine line between simply wanting more of these foods in the winter and having it actually be a symptom that is related to SAD:

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