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Elizabeth Vassilenko

Ms. Caruso
UWRT- 1102- 001
June 21, 2016
Does the Change in Seasons affect an Individuals Mood, Energy, and Productivity?
Most people would argue that summer is the best season there is. No school,
warm weather, opportunities to visit the pool or the beach, feeling more energized, less
responsibilities, time for relaxation, and in general, more room to have fun. In contrary,
winter is usually the season where people feel groggy, tired, feel like they do not get
enough sleep, not enough sun and warmth, and typically around the time where students
have final exams before the end of the first semester. Due to this groggy feeling that some
may experience in the winter or a different season of the year, many feel like they have
trouble staying productive and staying energized. So do the changes in seasons affect an
individuals mood, energy, and productivity?
For those with seasonal affective disorder or have symptoms of the disorder, I
decided to create an app called [dwbh] short for Dont Worry Be Happy. I would
make sure the app very personable to each specific individual, as everybodys needs are
different. It would help individuals stay on task with their diet, find different recipes, log
everything that they consume and how theyre feeling that day, give the individual
surrounding locations of mountains, trails, lakes, and other exciting places to explore, and
feel a source of support from the app. There is even a forum where those that have the
app can communicate, exchange ideas, share recipes, and encourage one another, in the
tab labeled [dwbh] Community.

Some individuals face fatigue, moodiness, and even depression, which is a


condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D. for short. S.A.D. is a
physiological condition that affects peoples moods when the seasons change. Its a
disorder that affects mental health and can drastically affect a person and their energy
levels to change or shift as the weather changes. People who suffer from S.A.D. may
find they no longer have energy for things they usually enjoy, and their productivity at
work goes down (S.A.D. at Work: How the Changing Seasons Affect Your
Productivity). It is a very common disorder that affects 3 million Americans, usually
occurring every year during the season the individual most struggles to get through.
An individual does not have to be diagnosed with S.A.D. in order to feel
symptoms of fatigue, moodiness, or the feeling of being unproductive when the season
changes. It could happen to anyone and it could happen during any season, depending on
the individual and their preferred weather climate. Those affected could also put on
weight unknowingly, simply because some engage in stress eating, while others might
lack appetite completely. A person who feels sluggish and unproductive might skip
working out entirely, eat comfort foods, or just stay in bed all day.
Very often people turn to food when they are feeling stressed out or feel that food
will be the source of their comfort during a time of need. These individuals do not realize
that overeating will actually make their current struggle even worse, as most gain weight
very quickly that way. By being knowledgeable about what you eat and what foods are
healthy, nutritious, and also taste good, you are helping to better your current situation or
struggle. Since I have encountered many people who say they become depressed during a
certain season and the fact that I too find it hard to get through a certain season, mine

being winter, I thought creating Dont Worry Be Happy would be a very useful app.
Writers Brian Krans and Rena Goldman of healthline.com wrote, 10 Food Tips to Help
Ease the Winter Blues. They mention how if you alter your diet, you essentially
improve your mood (healthline.com). They suggest limiting sugar intake and eating a
diet with lean proteins, Omega-3 fatty acids, berries, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D,
dark chocolate, turkey, and bananas. These are a few suggestions out of many different
possibilities and anybody who wants help getting through a season can turn to the app for
support at any time, any day.
While majority of people feel more energized, productive, and happier in the
summertime, there are 1 out of 10 people who experience S.A.D. symptoms over the
summer, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Reverse Seasonal
Affective Disorder: SAD in the Summer). The writer of the article, Lina Jamis, talks
about how while the original form of winter S.A.D. is caused by a lack of sunlight, those
who experience S.A.D. in the summertime might have possibly absorbed too much
sunlight, which also leads to modulations in melatonin production (Reserve Seasonal
Affective Disorder). She found that those who have S.A.D. in the summer are most likely
living in the Southern region of America who are particularly prone to warmer summers,
rather than those who live in the northern region who do not experience warmth all year
round. Norman Rosenthal, a Georgetown University psychiatrist and professor, who
initially described the term Seasonal Affective Disorder, found that the drop in
temperature can be calming for those, who might otherwise find the summer heat
oppressive and agitating (Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder).

In contrast, according to a study that was conducted in 2008 by Jaap Denissen, he


found that there was very little variance in peoples day-to-day mood in relation to
weather fluctuations (Does Rainy Weather Really Affect Your Brain, Mood?). The writer
of the article had even commented on how the study was surprising since there are so
many observables changes in human behavior associated with the transition into fall and
winter. Although Denissen found that the changes in weather did not drastically affect a
person, he did find a correlation between sunlight and an individuals tiredness. The less
sunlight there was, the more an individual seemed to show depressed-like symptoms.
This would make sense because the less sunlight a person gets, the less vitamin D is
absorbed in their body. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is produced by the skin
when a person is exposed to sunlight and affects a persons mood by the change in their
serotonin levels. Someone who has higher levels of serotonin is generally more
energized, and therefore, happier. This could also be related to daylight savings time and
could be a factor in an individuals unhappiness. Winding the clocks back an hour means
losing an hour of sleep that you would normally get in the morning. Daylight savings also
means that it can become dark at 5 pm in the winter, making it easy for a person to feel
unproductive, tired, and sad. In the summer, you could walk out of your house at 8 pm
and the sun would just start descending.
Attempting to better understand both S.A.D. and reverse S.A.D. and reading
differing views from professors and psychologists, both conditions make sense to me.
Nevertheless, it is still unclear as to whether it is the lack of sunlight that causes an
individual to have S.A.D. or it is the actual change of season, climate, and temperature. It
is also unclear as to whether it is the over-exposure to sunlight or the high temperature

and warmth that causes someone to develop reverse S.A.D. As Jamis notes, there are
unfortunately very few studies that attempt to understand reverse S.A.D. Additionally,
individuals who might be affected by reverse S.A.D. may be misdiagnosed with major
depression, anxiety, or dysthymia, (dysthymia is a persistent mild depression). She also
adds that, researchers think it may also have a genetic component as more than twothirds of patients with S.A.D. have a relative with a major mood disorder (Reverse
Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Does the changing of seasons affect anyone and everyone? Are there people who
feel like they are always energized and maintain their productivity no matter what season,
weather condition, or temperature? If so, how do they avoid feeling sluggish or
unproductive? How do they keep their positivity when the season changes to the one they
most dislike? Are those individuals always consistent with how productive they are, and
if so, how can they help those with S.A.D. or Reverse S.A.D. fight the fatigue and slump?

Original Works Cited


Taylor, Beth. S.A.D. at Work: How the Changing Seasons Affect Your
Productivity.PayScale, Human Capital. N.p., 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 June 2016.
Jamis, Lina. Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD in the Summer.Psychology
Today. Ed. Jordan Gaines Lewis. N.p., 14 Jan. 2015. Web. 06 June 2016.
Gaynor, Rachelle. Does Rainy Fall Weather Really Affect Your Brain, Mood?
AccuWeather. N.p., 8 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 June 2016.
New Works Cited
Krans, Brian, and Rena Goldman. 10 Food Tips to Help Ease the Winter Blues.
Healthline. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 19 June 2016