Fall weather dampens moods due to Seasonal Affective Disorder

Every year in New England, September serves as a transitional month between the sweltering summer sun and the biting chill of fall. Around this time of year, the Earth’s rotation brings about changes in the moods of ten million Americans, along with changes in weather.  These “winter blues” can be attributed to Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression. Unlike depression, SAD’s symptoms depend on the time of year. “The colder and less sunny that it gets, the worse my symptoms get,” says Julia Roth, who suffers from the disorder.

She goes on to explain her personal experience with Seasonal Affective  Disorder. In colder, more dreary weather,  “I get extremely irritable, exhausted, anxious, and have a severe lack of motivation,” Julia reports. Once the weather passes, she returns to her old self, which is “positive, proactive, and ambitious.”

Julia attends Southern Florida University, and does not have to worry about this year’s fall solstice. “The best remedy is getting time in warmer and sunnier weather,” she reflects on her move from New England to Florida.

Understandably, Julia is very aware of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and finds that a lot of people seem to show symptoms along with her. “I think more people have slight seasonal affective disorder than we realize” Julia says, adding, “if it goes further than simply being sick of the snow and wanting to get outside, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder.”

Even those that do not suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder experience mood swings during the colder months. “When it’s rainy and gloomy, it’s depressing,” says Lou Labrinos. He admits that the weather can even affect his behavior, saying, “weather makes me grumpy and then I get grumpy with the people around me.”

Labrinos sits in a lawn chair in the Staples parking lot and contentedly puffs from his cigar. “A day like this is nice,” he says, enjoying his good mood and one of the last remaining sunny days.

Some believe that the shift in mood depends more on rainy day activities than the actual weather itself. “When you’re restricted on a rainy day it does put you in a different mood,” Beatrice Johnson explains.

“You aren’t getting out there conversing,” Johnson’s grandson, Mike Raymo chimes in. On the contrary, in the summer months, “you are happy because you are able to go out and enjoy the sun,” Raymo compares.

Beatrice Johnson considers the seasons from a very practical standpoint. Her mood worsens due to the tangible repercussions of bad weather. “Financially, you are paying extra money from the heat,” she explains. Beatrice adds, “it’s hard because of my arthritis,” which worsens in the cold.

The Hudson River on a chilly September day

Residents of the Hudson Valley will experience the weather to an even harsher degree than most Northerners. Cold winds blow off the Hudson River and sharply accentuate an already chilly fall. Beatrice Johnson, who grew up in the area, explains that the wind chill is just another part of life in the Hudson Valley.  

“It gives a certain kind of chill down your spine,” her grandson, Mike Raymo, agrees.

Locals can expect a drop in temperature in the upcoming weeks. Nights will get as cold as 45 degrees and the last 80 degree day has likely past. As the Hudson and surrounding areas get colder, those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder may begin to experience symptoms.

Despite the impending gloom, residents still find a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season. Mike Raymo likes any excuse to slurp soup and hot chocolate, and  looks forward to the annual revival of Pumpkin Spice flavors. Lou Labrinos enjoys watching the leaves change along the river.

“No matter what season it is, it’s beautiful here,” declares Beatrice Johnson, with true Hudson Valley pride.

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