The Link Between Weather and Mood

Patient Expert

It's raining today and I'm on vacation in Maine visiting Acadia National Park. The whole area is absolutely gorgeous, with fantastic and varied views of ocean, mountain, woods, brooks, rocky crags, quaint fishing towns providing all the associated activities you might want to participate in like hiking, biking, fishing, boating, swimming. We've been mostly taking short hikes, but just being outdoors anywhere here has been a treat.

We've been a little short on the views, however, since it's been foggy since we arrived. It's also showered on and off, but nothing serious until last night when it started to rain heavily and hasn't let up. It's 10 a.m. now and we'd planned a ferry ride to an island for the day. We'll probably still do it, since we're heading home tomorrow, but it would have been nice to see a sunny view once while we're here.

Weather often has a big effect on those of us suffering from bipolar disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder common in climates with long winters, and can be helped with light therapy. One friend of mine gets so down in the winter that she leaves town for sunnier climes every year. She's lucky she can do that. Most of us don't have that choice.

For me, light doesn't seem to be a big issue. What matters more, it seems, is the unrelenting nature of a particular weather pattern. When I lived in San Diego for three years, I got so bored by day after sunny day of perfect weather. Give me a snow storm, a thunderstorm, anything to break the monotony, I'd beg.

Now I live in Ithaca, New York, which can be fairly unrelenting in its monotony at times. We can get winters where the ground is covered with snow for months, springs and falls where it rains for days and days in a row. Yet it changes enough to suit me most of the time. An occasional trip helps break it up.

When we suffer from bipolar disorder, it's important to be aware of how the weather affects us, and to take what steps we can to make conditions better. If light deprivation makes you depressed, for example, is it possible to move to a sunnier clime? If not, be sure to make use of light therapy lamps to help keep depression at bay.

Learn more about treatment for bipolar disorder.

Learn more about therapy and lifestyle changes for bipolar disorder.