If you are bothered by extreme weather events, or rising sea levels, or biodiversity losses that are intensified by climate change, here is something else to worry about:  seasonal affective disorder (SAD).   It refers to a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons.  SAD is most often associated with depression in the winter when there is less sunlight and more “winter blues”, but a less-common form of SAD is associated with depression in the summer.

SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter.  Some research suggests a relationship with serotonin, melatonin, and Vitamin D, which help maintain the body’s daily rhythm.










Impacting SAD are the anxieties associated with coping with climate change.  The more extreme the weather events, the hotter the climate, the greater the anxiety.  Recent research indicates that, “children and those with pre-existing psychiatric conditions can be more at risk after being exposed to news about climate change or disasters.”  See Field, below.  The spread of “eco-anxiety” reflects these growing concerns.


Some further ideas to explore on Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD)

Is your mood affected by rain or sun or other weather conditions?

Do you experience more sadness or depression in the winter or summer?

Have you experienced anxiety about the increase in climate breakdown?   What about your children or family or friends’ children?   Do they seem more anxious about the future climate?



“Seasonal affective disorder,” Mayo Clinic bit.ly/3SZBBel

Cameron Walker, “Seasonal Affective Disorder Isn’t Just for Winter,” The New York Times (1 Nov 2022).   bit.ly/3UZFmDf

Kate Burrows, et al., “A systematic review of the effects of chronic, slow-onset climate change on mental health,” Nature Mental Health (15 Jan 2024).  bit.ly/3SZBaAJ

“Seasonal Affective Disorder,” National Institute of Mental Health.   bit.ly/48yXMhu

Barbara Field, “How Weather Changes Can Affect Your Mental Health,” Very Well Mind (3 April 2022).   bit.ly/3uRCA8s

See “The rise of eco-anxiety” in the Podcast section of www.irishenvironment.com (1 Oct 2020).

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