Theories on How Weather Affects Human Emotions

Written by cindi pearce
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Theories on How Weather Affects Human Emotions
Depression may be exacerbated by the weather. (woman in solutude and depression image by Allen Penton from

It remains arguable whether the weather affects emotions and mood. Some people and authorities claim that weather conditions definitely impact the way we feel, whereas others claim that this is nonsense. Author Hans Christian Andersen noted in his writing that the warm Swiss "foehn" wind results in strange human behaviour, including an increase in nausea, domestic violence, and depression. This may be superstition, or perhaps there is some merit to it.

Limited Exposure to the Sun

Studies have been ongoing since the 1970s on the impact of weather on human temperament. Many of the studies found that low mood, including ennui and depression, correlate with limited exposure to the sun and high humidity, with spirits rising when the barometric pressure is higher and there is more sunshine, notes

Different Reactions

When the weather is cold, windy, and dark, it has a negative effect on moods and can make individuals feel sluggish and worn out. However, people react in different ways to weather. Some may thrive when it's cold and dark, while others prefer heat and sunlight.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

There is a condition called or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which strikes some individuals when they are deprived of sunlight. These people are likely to experience depression during the winter months when there is less light.


When our eyes detect that it is light, melatonin production subsides and serotonin, the happy chemical in our brains that puts us in a better mood and promotes wakefulness, takes over. Melatonin is instrumental in controlling sleep/wake cycles. Light has a huge impact on melatonin production. In the winter, you produce melatonin either later or earlier in the day than you would during the summer months. This change in melatonin production is what leads to SAD. The older a person gets, the less melatonin he produces. Sometimes the elderly do not produce any at all. This makes the elderly more susceptible to depression.


According to, weather may enhance emotions, the good and the bad, rather than create them. If a person is already in a lousy mood and the weather is dark and dreary, this may make him feel even worse. Conversely, if an individual is feeling good and it is warm and sunny outside, this may contribute to his feeling of emotional well being.

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