How changing seasons can affect your mood

Fall officially began with the autumnal equinox at 3:50 a.m. Monday.

The equinox occurs when the sun’s rays fall directly over the equator. Earth during the equinox is neither tilted towards or away from the sun. Around this time, we see nearly equal amounts of daylight and nighttime. As we move deeper in the fall season, we continue to lose more and more sunlight.

By the time we hit Dec. 21 at the winter solstice, we will be down to a daylight minimum of around 9 hours and 21 minutes. While it may be a smooth transition for some, others don’t handle the seasonal changes quite as well.

RELATED: See more trending stories on

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is the name given to the condition of the negative effects of these seasonal changes. Due to the decrease in sunlight, the brain’s perception of time is distorted.

As a result, our circadian rhythm, or the the 24-hour mental and physical cycle, is disrupted. This disruption can lead to an overall decrease in energy as well as oversleeping.

Additionally, the lack of sunlight will drop the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, memory, sleep and appetite.

This drop in serotonin will lead to oversleeping, increased appetite, decreased energy and depression.

Aside from prescribed medications, there is a light treatment therapy used to mimic sunlight in order to increase serotonin production and return the chemical to normal levels.

It's important to note that those diagnosed with bipolar disorder need to make sure to inform their doctor before undergoing any treatment or taking medications as they could result in a manic episode.

Comments on this article